Apple Blocks Facebook From Running Its Internal iOS Apps →

January 31, 2019 · 09:39

Tom Warren, for The Verge:

Apple has shut down Facebook’s ability to distribute internal iOS apps, from early releases of the Facebook app to basic tools like a lunch menu. A person familiar with the situation tells The Verge that early versions of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and other pre-release “dogfood” (beta) apps have stopped working, as have other employee apps, like one for transportation. Facebook is treating this as a critical problem internally, we’re told, as the affected apps simply don’t launch on employees’ phones anymore.

This won’t change how Facebook operates. John Gruber recently called Facebook ‘a criminal enterprise’ and I’m finally willing to agree with him — that company should be treated as such by everyone. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t lose any sleep if they were completely booted from the App Store (including Instagram, WhatsApp, and all their other assets).


Bloomberg Suggests 3D Cameras and USB-C for iPhones, a New Cheap 10-inch iPad, a New iPad Mini and Dark Mode for iOS 13 →

January 31, 2019 · 09:20

Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, for Bloomberg:

Apple is also testing some versions of this year’s iPhone line that includes a USB-C connector instead of the Lightning port that has been used on iPhones since 2012, indicating that the company plans an eventual switch, according to one of the people […]

Beyond iPhones, Apple plans to release an updated version of its lower-cost iPad with a roughly 10-inch screen and a faster processor as early as this spring, according to people familiar with the plans. That device is expected to retain the Lightning port, according to one of the people. The company is also readying a new, cheaper iPad mini, its smallest tablet that hasn’t been updated since 2015, the people said.

Apple’s next operating system update, iOS 13, will include a dark mode option for easier nighttime viewing and improvements to CarPlay, the company’s in-vehicle software. There will also be iPad-specific upgrades like a new home screen, the ability to tab through multiple versions of a single app like pages in a web browser, and improvements to file management. The company will also integrate two new services, including a magazine subscription service and its original video content efforts, via iOS updates this year.

This summary by Mark Gurman, potentially confirming previous leaks, makes me feel like I won’t be upgrading my iPhone this year – the new camera module will allegedly only be present on the XS Max’s successor, which is just too big to use comfortably. I was a bit surprised that he didn’t corroborate the leak about the XR’s successor getting a dual-camera setup though.

In terms of hardware, I can’t wait for a new iPad Mini. I doubt I’ll buy one — having two iPads is overkill — but still I fondly recall my first generation iPad Mini. It was just so comfortable to use around the house and in transit.

In terms of software, I can’t wait to get my hands on the new iOS 13 beta this June — 2019 will hopefully be the year of meaningful iPad updates.


Google Will Stop Peddling a Data Collector For iPhones →

January 31, 2019 · 09:08

Zack Whittaker, Josh Constine, and Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

Google has been running an app called Screenwise Meter, which bears a strong resemblance to the app distributed by Facebook Research that has now been barred by Apple, TechCrunch has learned.

In its app, Google invites users aged 18 and up (or 13 if part of a family group) to download the app by way of a special code and registration process using an Enterprise Certificate. That’s the same type of policy violation that led Apple to shut down Facebook’s similar Research VPN iOS app, which had the knock-on effect of also disabling usage of Facebook’s legitimate employee-only apps — which run on the same Facebook Enterprise Certificate — and making Facebook look very iffy in the process […]

After we asked Google whether its app violated Apple policy, Google announced it will remove Screenwise Meter from Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program and disable it on iOS devices.

The company said in a statement to TechCrunch:

“The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”

Translation: ‘Please Apple, don’t disable our certificate, like you did Facebook’s. We’ll be good now. Promise!’


Second China-Bound Apple Car Worker Charged With Data Theft →

January 31, 2019 · 09:03

Kartikay Mehrotra and Mark Gurman, for Bloomberg:

An Apple Inc. hardware engineer was charged by the U.S. with stealing the iPhone maker’s driverless car secrets for a China-based company, the second such case since July […]

Jizhong Chen was seen by a fellow Apple employee taking photographs Jan. 11 with a wide-angle lens inside a secure work space that houses the company’s autonomous car project, about six months after he signed a strict confidentiality oath when he was hired, according to a criminal complaint in federal court in San Jose, California.

Prosecutors said Chen admitted to taking the photos and backing up some 2,000 files to his personal hard drive, including manuals and schematics for the project, but didn’t tell Apple he had applied for a job with a China-based autonomous vehicle company.

Will the James Bonds of the world adapt to this new reality, in which stealing code for autonomous cars is more important than trying to steal nuclear launch codes?


UAE Used Cyber Super-Weapon to Spy on iPhones of Foes →

January 31, 2019 · 08:54

Joel Schectman, for Reuters:

The ex-Raven operatives described Karma as a tool that could remotely grant access to iPhones simply by uploading phone numbers or email accounts into an automated targeting system. The tool has limits — it doesn’t work on Android devices and doesn’t intercept phone calls. But it was unusually potent because, unlike many exploits, Karma did not require a target to click on a link sent to an iPhone, they said.

In 2016 and 2017, Karma was used to obtain photos, emails, text messages and location information from targets’ iPhones. The technique also helped the hackers harvest saved passwords, which could be used for other intrusions.

It isn’t clear whether the Karma hack remains in use. The former operatives said that by the end of 2017, security updates to Apple Inc’s iPhone software had made Karma far less effective.

How many tools are currently out in the world, whose existence we are completely oblivious to?


Facebook Pays Teens to Install VPN That Spies on Them →

January 30, 2019 · 09:55

Josh Constine, reporting for TechCrunch:

Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms. Facebook admitted to TechCrunch it was running the Research program to gather data on usage habits.

Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page. The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook’s involvement, and is referred to in some documentation as “Project Atlas” — a fitting name for Facebook’s effort to map new trends and rivals around the globe.

[Update 11:20pm PT: Facebook now tells TechCrunch it will shut down the iOS version of its Research app in the wake of our report. The rest of this article has been updated to reflect this development.]

Just delete your account. The stuff they’re doing is completely unacceptable and I’m actually surprised nobody has been jailed yet.


Major FaceTime Bug Lets You Hear the Audio of the Person You Are Calling Before They Pick Up →

January 29, 2019 · 10:49

Benjamin Mayo, for 9to5Mac:

A significant bug has been discovered in FaceTime and is currently spreading virally over social media. The bug lets you call anyone with FaceTime, and immediately hear the audio coming from their phone — before the person on the other end has accepted or rejected the incoming call. Apple says the issue will be addressed in a software update “later this week”.

In the meantime, Tim Cook tweeted:

We must keep fighting for the kind of world we want to live in. On this #DataPrivacyDay let us all insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections. The dangers are real and the consequences are too important.

Twitter user MGT7500 claims to have reported the bug days ago:

My teen found a major security flaw in Apple’s new iOS. He can listen in to your iPhone/iPad without your approval. I have video. Submitted bug report to @AppleSupport…waiting to hear back to provide details. Scary stuff!

At this point it’s not even the bug itself that irritates me, but the manner in which apple handles such reports. It’s unacceptable to call “all hands on deck” only after news of the bug goes public.


Vortex Race 3 — A Mechanical Keyboard for My iPad Pro

January 28, 2019 · 10:13

My Vortex Race 3 arrived while we were away on our vacation, so naturally I spent most of last night playing around with it, instead of sleeping like any sane person would. I’ve already preprogrammed the first layer and it seems to suit my needs perfectly, connected to both the iPad and Mac.

I’m very excited to go back to a mechanical keyboard, especially since I’m frustrated with the one in my MacBook Pro.

Rainbow backlight turned on only for the purpose of taking the photo — I don’t actually use it.


Zuckerberg Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger →

January 26, 2019 · 00:29

Mike Isaac, writing for The New York Times:

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, plans to integrate the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger — asserting his control over the company’s sprawling divisions at a time when its business has been battered by scandal.

The services will continue to operate as stand-alone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified, said four people involved in the effort. That will bring together three of the world’s largest messaging networks, which between them have more than 2.6 billion users, allowing people to communicate across the platforms for the first time.

Mark Zuckerberg is the worst thing that could have ever happened to Instagram. I deleted Instagram’s app from my iPhone a few weeks ago because I was not comfortable using any Facebook product anymore. They have shown time and time again that they don’t care about privacy or even have the basic decency to apologize to their users. Time to finally say goodbye.


Apple Registers New iPad Models in Eurasian Database Ahead of Rumored 10-Inch iPad and iPad Mini 5 →

January 25, 2019 · 21:39

Chance Miller, for 9to5Mac:

Over recent weeks, reports have suggested Apple is planning a new iPad mini 5 as well as a 10-inch iPad. Now, the company has registered a handful new iPad models with the Eurasian Economic Commission, the database that has revealed new Apple devices in the past.

I hope they get new designs and better displays.

Update

Steven Troughton-Smith did some spelunking:

In theory, iOS 12.2 references four new iPads in WiFi & Cellular variants (perhaps mini, and 9.7″?), all without Face ID, and a (seventh-gen?) iPod touch with no Touch ID nor Face ID.


The Mac App Store Welcomes Office 365 →

January 25, 2019 · 10:50

Apple Newsroom:

Today, Office 365 is available for the first time on the Mac App Store, making it easier than ever for Mac users to download Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and the whole suite of Microsoft’s popular apps. Users can also purchase a subscription for Office 365 from within the apps, so they can get up and running instantly.

Office 365 for Mac has been designed specifically to support features that are unique to the Mac experience — features like Dark Mode and Continuity Camera in macOS, as well as the MacBook Pro Touch Bar and the Mac’s industry-leading Trackpad.

I can’t help but wonder what Apple’s cut on Office is. 70/30? 85/15? It surely can’t be 100/0‽


Xiaomi’s 20000 mAh Mi Power Bank 3 Charges Devices at Up to 45W via USB-C For ~$30 →

January 24, 2019 · 10:34

Adam Conway, on XDA Developers:

The Xiaomi Mi Power Bank 3 has two USB-A ports and one USB-C port. The two USB-A ports can output at 5V/2.4A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A if only one port is used, or 5V/3A when both are. The singular USB-C port can out output at up to 45W. The Xiaomi Mi Power Bank 3 can charge in just 4.5 hours if you have a 45W charger. Using a regular 5V/2A charger will take about 11 hours to charge, while an 18W charger will take 6.5 hours.

Speaking of power banks, this will be my next purchase. 30 USD for 20K mAh capable of charging my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, iPhone, and Apple Watch? ‘Are you getting it? These are not four separate devices.’


Apple Releases Official Battery Cases for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR →

January 24, 2019 · 10:22

Samuel Axon, writing for Ars Technica:

Today, Apple quietly began taking orders for battery-equipped cases for all three 2018 iPhone models—iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. The value proposition and designs are essentially the same as with battery cases made by Apple for prior iPhones.

While the cases are probably made well enough, the 30% price hike is unacceptable. I’m not a person that needs extra battery life often, so buying one at these prices and not being able to use it when I go to a newer iPhone makes no sense whatsoever. On the other hand, a good power bank will keep going for years — my 10K mAh Xiaomi is still fine after being actively used for 5 years, it holds its charge, and it cost me around 20-30 USD. And it can also charge all my other devices.


Twitterrific Ad Network →

January 23, 2019 · 19:20

Ged Maheux, for The Iconfactory:

When it comes to online advertising, the big question has always been: how do I get the most bang for the least bucks? If you’re a small developer with a limited budget (like we are), then you’re accustomed to carefully picking and choosing how and where to promote your product to reach the widest possible audience. We understand the struggle – which is why we created the Twitterrific Ad Network!

Now you can advertise your app, website, product or service directly on Twitterrific’s expansive network of tech-savvy users for just $100 a month. For that price we guarantee 1,000 tap-throughs – not impressions but actual visits – to your App Store page or website. What’s more, we take care of creating the ad for you ourselves and even provide App Analytics for iOS or Google Analytics for websites.

This sounds like a great idea for indie devs (great price), a tolerable idea for Twitterrific users (the app is currently funded by a tip jar; the ads look nice), and a bad idea once Twitter finds out (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Twitter client implement their own ads).


Google Proposes Changes to Chromium to Kill uBlock Origin and uMatrix →

January 23, 2019 · 10:37

From the comments section:

From the description of the declarativeNetRequest API, I understand that its purpose is to merely enforce Adblock Plus (“ABP”)-compatible filtering capabilities. It shares the same basic filtering syntax: double-pipe to anchor to hostname, single pipe to anchor to start or end of URL, caret as a special placeholder, and so on. The described matching algorithm is exactly that of a ABP-like filtering engine.

If this (quite limited) declarativeNetRequest API ends up being the only way content blockers can accomplish their duty, this essentially means that two content blockers I have maintained for years, uBlock Origin (“uBO”) and uMatrix, can no longer exist.

Please don’t use Chrome (or Chromium unfortunately). Just switch to Safari or Firefox (I use it as my second browser and it’s fine).

And while you’re at it, switch out your search engine to DuckDuckGo — it works surprisingly well, even in Poland when searching for Polish content.

via @khron


Apple’s 2019 Shot on iPhone Contest →

January 22, 2019 · 20:01

Apple is kicking off 2019 by celebrating the most stunning photographs captured on iPhone, the world’s most popular camera, by inviting iPhone users to submit their best shots.

From January 22 to February 7, Apple is looking for outstanding photographs for a Shot on iPhone Challenge. A panel of judges will review worldwide submissions and select 10 winning photos, to be announced in February.

Pete Souza, Barack Obama’s photographer, is one of the judges.

Updated on 25/01/2019

Apple believes strongly that artists should be compensated for their work. Photographers who shoot the final 10 winning photos will receive a licensing fee for use of such photos on billboards and other Apple marketing channels.

A backlash shouldn’t have been necessary for Apple to include the statement above but I’m glad they came around.


The Design Flaw Behind MacBook Pro’s “Stage Light” Effect →

January 22, 2019 · 19:00

Taylor Dixon, for iFixit:

The issue is fairly simple: the current generation of MacBook Pro laptops (2016–present) uses flexible ribbon cables to connect the display to a display controller board beneath the Touch Bar. These cables wrap over the board, where they’re secured by a pair of spring-loaded covers—and they’re subjected to the stress of bending with every opening and closure of the laptop. Within a seemingly short time, those cables are starting to fatigue and tear. The backlight cable is generally the first to go, producing the infamous “stage light” symptoms, and eventually giving out entirely when the laptop is opened more than about 40° […]

But the bigger problem is that, in an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced. This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster.

Imagine if you had to replace half of your car because a cable stopped working. This is simply horrible design.


A Trip to the ER With Tom’s Apple Watch →

January 22, 2019 · 10:20

Tom Bridge, on Cannonball:

This afternoon, I was helping a client move offices, mostly just deconstructing a simple network rack and moving access points into new space. I was doing some physical work, but nothing anyone would mistake for exercise. But, then I felt it. My heart was pounding. I got dizzy. Tunnel vision. I had to sit down.

I took my heart rate on the watch and it was over 200. I spent five years as a competitive swimmer, and to my knowledge I never got above 195. Even riding up Box Hill on Zwift didn’t get me over 170 this winter. 200 is scary territory. I remembered the ECG functionality, and googled how it worked. I took a reading.

I didn’t know how to read it, and I knew I was in a bit of trouble, so I had a coworker take me up to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, a mile or two away. Triage saw me rapidly, and I unlocked my phone to show the nurse. She was setting up a more complicated EKG, but because my heart rate had dropped back toward normal, it might not have any clear result they could read beyond just normal operation.

As soon as the tele-doc came on screen, the nurse rotated my phone and put it up to the camera to show the doctor the rapid rhythm from half an hour earlier.

“Oh, that’s an SVT,” he said immediately.

I didn’t see what it had to do with Ford’s Special Vehicle Team, but he clarified that he meant Supraventricular Tachycardia. They wanted to make sure labs were taken, and that nothing abnormal in my blood work showed a more troubling cause. But the diagnosis was there in an instant, thanks to my wrist watch.

At the intersection of technology, liberal arts, and saving lives.

via Six Colours


Rogue Amoeba’s 2019 Status Report →

January 22, 2019 · 10:05

Paul Kafasis:

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means it’s once again time for a Rogue Amoeba status report. This post offers a look at what we did in 2018, as well as a glimpse at our plans for the future.

These guys make some of the most amazing Mac apps and it’s great to see they’re heading into 2019 with a strong roadmap.


Amazing Thread About the History of the Macintosh SE/30 →

January 20, 2019 · 05:12

Nick Punt:

Just want to point out that today is the 30th anniversary of the beloved Macintosh SE/30. Small in stature but huge in performance, expansion, and overall likability. The king of the compact macs, and considered by many to be the Best Mac Ever.

Read the whole thing — Nick posted a whole thread on Twitter about this mighty little computer.


Tim Cook’s Op-Ed on Privacy →

January 19, 2019 · 12:41

Tim Cook:

Last year, before a global body of privacy regulators, I laid out four principles that I believe should guide legislation:

First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why. Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data. And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.

But laws alone aren’t enough to ensure that individuals can make use of their privacy rights. We also need to give people tools that they can use to take action. To that end, here’s an idea that could make a real difference.

I still trust Apple more than any other company to care about my privacy (though their deal with China makes me wary) — I hope they don’t screw this up as badly as they did their pricing.


DuckDuckGo Powered by Apple Maps →

January 19, 2019 · 12:37

DuckDuckGo:

We’re excited to announce that map and address-related searches on DuckDuckGo for mobile and desktop are now powered by Apple’s MapKit JS framework, giving you a valuable combination of mapping and privacy. As one of the first global companies using Apple MapKit JS, we can now offer users improved address searches, additional visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps already in use on billions of Apple devices worldwide.

With this updated integration, Apple Maps are now available both embedded within our private search results for relevant queries, as well as available from the “Maps” tab on any search result page.

I wonder why they chose Apple Maps instead of one of the many alternatives to Google Maps. Are the other options not as focused on privacy? Did Apple simply make them a good deal? Either way, this is most welcome. I have been using DDG as my search engine for a few years now and I rarely have to switch to Google to find something DDG missed.


Bypassing 2FA With ‘Modlishka’ Reverse Proxy Tool →

January 19, 2019 · 12:26

Piotr Duszyński:

This blog post is an introduction to the reverse proxy “Modlishka” tool, that I have just released. I hope that this software will reinforce the fact that social engineering is a serious threat, and cannot be treated lightly.

On the page below I will shortly describe how this tool can be used to bypass most of the currently used 2FA authentication schemes.


MacBook Pro Keyboard Popping Sounds →

January 19, 2019 · 12:20

Steven Peterson:

Today I picked up a new 15” MacBook Pro, fully loaded. It was very expensive. I was excited to have a faster machine for my development work. I just returned it and got my money back because it kept making random popping noises. Then I saw this.

I really hope we get completely redesigned keyboards this year. My trust in Apple is plummeting downhill at a breakneck speed. This means that no new Mac for me for at least two more years, until I’m sure the new ones work properly.


Amazon’s Ring Has Access to All of It’s Customer’s Live Video Feeds and Recordings →

January 11, 2019 · 10:36

Sam Biddle, for The Intercept:

Despite its mission to keep people and their property secure, the company’s treatment of customer video feeds has been anything but, people familiar with the company’s practices told The Intercept. Beginning in 2016, according to one source, Ring provided its Ukraine-based research and development team virtually unfettered access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world. This would amount to an enormous list of highly sensitive files that could be easily browsed and viewed. Downloading and sharing these customer video files would have required little more than a click […]

At the same time, the source said, Ring unnecessarily provided executives and engineers in the U.S. with highly privileged access to the company’s technical support video portal, allowing unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras, regardless of whether they needed access to this extremely sensitive data to do their jobs.

Trust takes a long time to earn, but it can be lost in a heartbeat. I still cannot believe that companies don’t take this topic more seriously, especially after all of the Uber and Facebook fiascos.


AEK II Inspired XDA Oblique Keycaps for Mechanical Keyboards →

January 10, 2019 · 13:12

XDA Oblique is a keyset inspired by the keycaps of the AEK, M0116, AEKII, and similar Apple keyboards. The font used in this keyset is Oswald Light and is angled at 18°. This is a very close to Univers 57 Condensed Oblique, the font used on the AEK. The caps will be color matched to Pantone Cool Grey 2 U, which is very close to Apple’s original tone.

I am completely smitten with this design. They are unfortunately already sold-out. I included some samples below but there are more over on Dixie Mech’s site (just click the link in the title of this post).


Apple Cuts iPhone 8, XR, XS, XS Max Prices for Chinese Vendors →

January 10, 2019 · 10:05

Alex Allegro, for 9to5Mac:

A report from China’s National Business Daily says Chinese iPhone vendors received word yesterday regarding price cuts to iPhone 8, 8 Plus, XR, XS and XS Max.

The biggest price cut comes to the iPhone XR, which allegedly is seeing a 450 yuan (~$66) discount, bringing the total XR price to 5250 yuan (about $770). Generally though, most iPhones are seeing a 400 yuan (~$59) reduction.

What about the rest of the world?