Apple Pay. Privacy. iPhone Ads. It’s All About the Money

Apple with a big pile of money

There was a lot of scattered Apple news debris this week. So I’ve collected all on one page for your reading pleasure. Let’s get started.

Apple TV 4K
Geting 4K content here ain’t like dustin’ crops.

• Getting your 4K content delivered over the internet and through a 4K device, like the Apple TV 4K ain’t like dustin’ crops. Here’s the story of how Epix did it. “How Epix got its 4K content onto the Apple TV.”

• It seems the European Union is geting cranky again about a single standard for a charging port. Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac has the story. “European Union threatens to get tough on Apple and others for non-standard ports.

The companies promised to adopt a single standard – the MicroUSB port – by 2011. However, that agreement expired without action in 2012, when Apple of course replaced its old 30-pin connector with Lightning

The horse is out of the barn now. Too late, methinks.

• Ever get a bill in the mail for US$15.1 billion? Apple did. And the company is paying it. See: “Apple pays most of its enormous EU tax bill without batting an eye.” Of coure, it’s easy for a company that has $240 billion assets in cash and securities. But. OMG. Ouch.

• Hackers who find security flaws make money by selling to the highest bidder. That’s why Apple started a fund to pay bug bounties. But a Google researcher claims Apple hasn’t paid all they should have. “Google Hacker Asks Tim Cook to Donate $2.45 Million In Unpaid iPhone Bug Bounties.

Maybe Apple feels that they already knew about some security flaws before they were reported. Maybe someone at Apple thinks there’s no need to pay in that case. But, hey, here’s a case where Apple should very much be generous. It doesn’t want the hackers going somewhere else. Bad things could happen. See the $15 billion paid above. ::cough::

• Technical problems abound with AI. Some of the issues relate to who is designing the software. Certain biases can creep in. Google is alert to that. “Artificial intelligence has a racial bias problem. Google is funding summer camps to try to change that.

• Jonny Evans continues to amaze with his Apple Holic column. This time, he discovers that AirPods aren’t just for breakfast anymore. “AirPods aren’t just for hipsters, they’re also for the enterprise.

• Apple is a fast-moving company, in tune with trends, influencers and the younger customers. So it’s no surprise that some of Apple’s ads might dismay older people. We have suspected that all along, but here’s some evidence. From 9to5Mac: Apple’s current ads annoy and worry older people — but it doesn’t matter.

I can’t blame Apple. They go for the money. But it does mean older people need to stay up-to-date or get left behind in many elements of modern life. Here’s a great example relating to footbal tickets. But, then, to keep from being tracked inside the stadium, one must turn off Location Services. Sigh….

• Dan Dilger at Roughly Drafted takes an in-depth look at Apple’s fast growing services business. “Apple’s Secret Services Sauce Sells Systems.”

• Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to get the government to protect our privacy? Because money.Telecom Lobbyists Have Stalled 70 State-Level Bills That Would Protect Consumer Privacy.” But, hey, regulation just gets in the way of American business and profits. That’s what’s most important, right? ::cough::

Apple Pay AMEX

• Finally, Gene Munster at LoupVentures has published a very interesting and thorough analysis of Apple Pay. This one is a must read. “Apple Pay Increasingly Central to iPhone.

Despite 5 plus years of announcements from Google, Samsung, PayPal, Venmo, Square, Stripe, and Apple advancing the digital wallet theme, we believe less than 20% of global smartphone users actually use their phone as a wallet. Eventually, we believe that number will rise to above 80%.

Apple has a great opportunity to be a major part of that 80 percent. That is, if the company is hungry enough and can integrate Apple Pay’s privacy angle.

Because money.


[Note: Particle Debris is just one page this week.]

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

4 thoughts on “Apple Pay. Privacy. iPhone Ads. It’s All About the Money

  • John:

    Quite a range in this week’s PD. Time for just a couple of observations.

    The piece on AI/Racial bias is a case in point regarding the comment I made on last week’s PD on 03 August, https://www.macobserver.com/columns-opinions/particle-debris/story-analysis-apple-trillion-dollars/ , namely that none of the authors in your featured articles on AI and its limitations addressed an inherent weaknesses, if not a potentially lethal inborn error, namely AI’s dependence on input, and how input from a limited and non-representative demographic can skew AI responsiveness to not simply output of limited usefulness for a majority of users, but even harmful output to specific ones. One obvious solution to this limitation is to somehow stimulate more input from a wider, more representative user base. In an ideal world, this would make such an inherent weakness to AI self-correcting.

    Sadly, we do not live in an ideal world, as your Broncos article and the question you pose as to whether or not older persons need to keep up or get left behind in our fast paced tech progress illustrates, as does the ‘9to5 Mac’ article on Apple’s current ads annoying older people. Although both of these latter citations underscore age as a potential barrier to up to date AI/tech participation, and therefore representation, there are many other demographic barriers that are either primary or proxy socio-economic indicators to participation, including that identified in the USA Today’ article on why does not Silicon Valley look like the rest of America https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/02/28/diversity-freada-kapor-klein-kapor-center-report-leaky-pipeline/378295002/ , on why there are so few women in tech.

    One way to limit biased input into AI is to borrow a correction factor from surveillance itself. There are two types of surveillance, epidemiologically speaking; passive and active. Passive is simply collecting data from those who initiate contact with the data collection centre, such as a clinic or a client database. This is how most systems work, and so long as participation is robust, like a local health centre, then the data are likely to be both representative and generalisable to the wider population. The other approach is active surveillance, meaning that the data collectors actively reach out to an appropriately sampled subset of the population. This is more labour intensive, and therefore costly. It also requires one to know enough about the population of interest that one can ensure that the sample is representative of it. From this limited sample, one can then extrapolate to the wider population and adjust one’s estimates for the entire population of interest.

    Might we need to use this approach for AI if it is to be both maximally responsive to the entire population of potential users, including those facing barriers to providing input, as well as to prevent AI from having a negative impact on under-represented users? Perhaps. The point being that, should these imbalances to participation continue, there are tried and true remedies that have been used in parallel industries. I see convergence between standards and practices between the tech industry and that of the health services/research sector in the near future, primarily for the same reasons; potential impact on public health, safety and welfare. Both face mounting issues around informed consent, voluntary participation, representativeness, access and impact on well-being.

    A second observation arises from the Broncos ticket sales article already cited above, again surveillance and the continued tension between personal privacy and public safety. As our personal devices have been exploited by bad guys to move money and assets into positions of maximum impact, they provide a ready counter-measure to make it harder for bad guys to remain invisible, but at the expense of personal privacy. For a public gathering space, like a football stadium, a movie cinema, or a symphony hall to be able to reasonably insure that the ticket purchasers are in fact the people in attendance may provide some measure of rapidly identifying who is/was present (the workarounds are easy, however), but is that cost too great to personal safety (ie could the bad guys track an individual’s whereabouts for untoward purposes, like burglary)?

    This is not a rhetorical, even if tired, question. I raise it simply to argue that it cannot be answered in the abstract, but only by an evidence-based, data-driven assessment of risk/benefit, in which both specific, illustrative individual use case, and broader societal impact will have to be competitively weighed. The good news is that it can be done. The bad news is that we may not yet have the data we need. The worse news is that it will never be a static equation, but a dynamic one that will need constant, if not continual reassessment. Why is that bad? Because the legal constructs to protecting the vulnerable, namely the individual consumer, are both slow to implement, and as your article on ‘Telecom lobbyists’ points out, susceptible to powerful special interests.

    We’ve entered an era in which new paradigms, including how we respond to both opportunities and threats, are absent but necessary.

  • But it does mean older people need to stay up-to-date or get left behind in many elements of modern life.

    I least I can compose a text message without using gibberish.

    Now get off of my lawn!

  • Back in Minnesota everything was paid with paper checks. When we moved to BC we were surprised when everything was card. Debit or credit. Checks were a far anomaly. But we adapted. A few years later chip cards came about and added tapping. We adapted. I know to look for the little sign either on the screen or often a hand written paper one saying Tapping, or less often No Tapping. ApplePay came along and so far nothing. Literally it was this year before I had a credit card that supported it. So far I’ve seen exactly one sign, in London Drugs that says they take it. I know Tim Horton’s does. I mean I think they do but there’s no sign and asking the clerk elicits a blank stare. So I’ve not set up a card. Started to set up my credit card, but ended up deleting it. I’m beyond the stage of enjoying being the odd geeky one. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a great thing. I like the security, I like the convenience. Maybe use will reach 80% some day and I’ll adopt it. Right now it still seems like too much hassle.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.