AI Will Lead to Self-Designing Machines

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Mars probe InSight on Mars

At ars tecnnica: “Manufacturing is in the early stages of a state of disruption brought on by technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing.” This fascinating discussion lays out a future in which humans and AIs partner to design machines which, in turn, redesign themselves on the job.  Amongst all the other possibilities, this would come in very handy for remote space probes and landers.

For example, a robot on Mars might detect very loose sand and determine it cannot move about efficiently to complete its mission,” explains Ben Schrauwen, co-founder and CTO of Oqton, an autonomous manufacturing platform.”The robot could learn to suggest different modalities on how to move in that environment, and, with 3D printing technology and some local robotics, it’s very conceivable that the robot could reconfigure itself at a distance to continue its mission unimpeded.”

Could Siri, someday, rewrite parts of iOS on the fly?

Apps Share your Private Information with Advertisers and Hedge Funds

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It is no secret that smartphone apps accumulate large amounts of user data and that this data is used by advertisers. However, a new report in The New York Times details just how specific and precise that data can be. While firms insist that they are interested in patterns, not individuals, this report explains how data from apps can be used to identify individuals, without their consent. Hedge funds, as well as advertisers, are among those who purchase the information generated by apps. The Times has a lot more detail, but here’s a taste:

More than 1,000 popular apps contain location-sharing code from such companies, according to 2018 data from MightySignal, a mobile analysis firm. Google’s Android system was found to have about 1,200 apps with such code, compared with about 200 on Apple’s iOS.

WhiteSmoke Writing Assistant 1-Year Premium Subscription: $15.20

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WhiteSmoke on a MacBook

We have a deal on a 1-year subscription to WhiteSmoke, a software writing assistant. WhiteSmoke checks your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style errors. Our deal is for $19, but coupon code GREENMONDAY20 takes 20% off for a checkout price of $15.20. There’s a lifetime subscription offer on our deal listing, too.

Bordeaux Apple Store Attacked in French 'Gilets Jaunes' Protests

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Gilets Jaunes Bordeaux

LONDON – The Apple Store in Bordeaux, France, was robbed and vandalized on Saturday by rioters involved in the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ movement. These protests were originally against a new motoring tax but have morphed into a larger movement. There have been protests in France over the last 4 weekends.  9to5Mac reported that protestors also damaged two Apple Stores in Paris, including the new Champs-Élysées flagship.

Apple Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux, France was robbed and looted Saturday night by French “yellow vest” protestors. The vandals smashed the store’s windows before flooding through the building and ripping MacBooks, iPhones, iPads and more from product tables. While the rioters refrained from completely destroying the property, the damage done will require extensive and time consuming repairs. By Sunday morning, plywood sheeting had been placed over the store’s windows to prevent further attacks.

Apple Demonstrates Benefits of Proper Data Transparency in Europe

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LONDON – The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe brought the issue of data transparency to the fore. Not all firms handled this change as well as others. Apple, however, is an example of a company that improved its data transparency, launching a portal that made it easier for customers to find out what data the company has on them. The stance also had commercial benefits, according to IT Pro. Here’s a snippet:

Apple is a prime example of a major tech giant taking steps to improve data transparency for its users. It recently launched a portal where customers can sift through all the data the company has on them, and CEO Tim Cook has been very vocal about data protection. He recently called it a “fundamental human right” and commended the implementation of GDPR, calling on tech companies to not only embrace the spirit of the EU laws, but to support the introduction of similar legislation across the US.

Coming Soon: A New Snapchat Portrait Mode?

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A new form of Snapchat portrait mode could be coming soon. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reverse engineered the app and found some details.

Portrait photos are in vogue, and Snapchat users will surely want to have this feature in the app as soon as possible. Wong posted a tweet that shows Snapchat‘s redesign camera UI to place these functions on the right-hand side.

As a small side note, what I find strange is TNW’s defense of Instagram, because apparently it had these features first. Instagram, the app from the company that punched a hole through OS app restrictions via literal spyware.

Google Maps For You Features Personalized Recommendations

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Today the Google Maps app is being updated with a For You section similar to those found in Apple’s apps. Google Maps For You gives you personalized recommendations.

The For You tab is designed to be a constant source of inspiration tailored to your tastes and preferences. Simply follow neighborhoods or places you’re interested in to get updates and recommendations—everything from recent news about an opening or pop up, a new menu item, and even restaurant suggestions based on what you’re likely to enjoy. If you’re making a trip this holiday season, the For You can help you get a jump start on travel planning even before you take off.

Google to Shut Down Messaging App Allo

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Google announced that it is shutting down its Allo messaging app. Analyzing the development, Engadget’s Nick Summers noted that Allo “has struggled to coax users away from established messaging apps such as iMessage and Facebook Messenger.” The app will stop working in March 2019.

Google’s new lineup will be simpler, but not necessarily better. There’s a chance, of course, that every carrier and OEM will add RCS support before March 2019, making Messages a viable option. The uptake over the last seven months, however, doesn’t fill me with confidence. If RCS remains a niche, I’ll have to stick with Whatsapp to communicate with most people. Which is a shame, because I liked Allo and believe a semi-popular, Google-run messaging app could be good for the wider industry. It would give Apple and Facebook some much-needed competition in the West, at least.

How T-Mobile's eSIM iPhone App Works

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PC Magazine got an exclusive look at T-Mobile’s eSIM app for the iPhone. It allows users to connect to a new prepaid T-Mobile line without the need for a physical sim card. Apple introduced this capability with the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR. A number of carriers are planning to support eSIM but the T-Mobile system was deemed easier than those from its rivals as it is based on an app and does not a QR Code or in-store activation.

T-Mobile is rolling this app out to its staff for training tomorrow and aims to launch it by the end of the year, according to sources close to the development and rollout. For now, it will only support adding prepaid plans to eSIMs; the thinking seems to be that it will be used for inbound roaming and secondary lines, with customers still going into stores and getting physical SIMs activated for primary lines and family plans.

Ultraloq UL3 Bluetooth Fingerprint and Touchscreen Smart Lock: $143.99

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Ultraloq UL3 Bluetooth Fingerprint and Touchscreen Smart Lock

We have a deal on the Ultraloq UL3 Bluetooth Fingerprint and Touchscreen Smart Lock. This smart lock allows you to program the lock to use your fingerprint, code, or smartphone to unlock the door. You can assign different users, use your iPhone app to unlock it over Bluetooth, and there’s a mechanical key backup. Our deal is for $168.99, but coupon code SAVEGREEN25 at checkout take $25 off, for a final price of $143.99.

Apple Announces New Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5

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Beddit, a sleep company acquired by Apple, is selling a new 3.5 version of its Beddit Sleep Monitor for US$149.95.

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 isn’t a radical change from the previous 3.0 version. It’s still a 2mm thin strip that you lay above your mattress and power via USB. It connects to an iPhone app for sending sleep tracking data to the Beddit app and Apple’s Health app (with permission), and it’s still advertised as not requiring a “wearable” like the Apple Watch — although Beddit has an Apple Watch app for tracking naps.

Security Week: Check Out Wired's Guide to Data Breaches

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Lily Hay Newman put together a great guide to data breaches. It covers the history of breaches like Equifax, Marriott, Quora, and others.

Think of data breaches as coming in two flavors: breaches of institutions that people choose to entrust with their data—like retailers and banks—and breaches of entities that acquired user data secondarily—like credit bureaus and marketing firms.

Soon Technology Could Have a Trust Label

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Backed by the Mozilla Foundation, NYU Law, the University of Dundee, and others, technology could soon get a trust label called Trustable Technology Mark.

Enter the Trustable Technology Mark. It’s like being certified organic, but for the Internet of Things. Supported by the Mozilla Foundation, NYU Law, the University of Dundee, and other institutions, the trustmark–a phrase for a logo that signifies a certification of some kind–aims to recognize companies building connected devices that have stellar data and privacy practices, are transparent and secure, and have some guarantee of longevity.

Hopefully there are rigorous standards that companies need to meet before getting this trust label. Because the aforementioned “certified organic” label is meaningless.

Apple Trying to Acquire Israeli Drama Starring Richard Gere

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Apple is trying to acquire an Israeli drama starring Richard Gere for its video platform. Since it’s a violent drama, some people believe Apple might be stepping around its family-friendly image.

“Nevelot,” is a gritty thriller that follows two veterans who go on a killing spree, on the belief that the youth of today do not understand the sacrifices made by previous generations. The title of the show itself translates to “Bastards,” meaning it is likely to be renamed for Western audiences.

It’s strange that Apple would suddenly chase after a violent show. So strange that I think it’s unlikely. If Apple does acquire Nevelot it will most certainly be sanitized.

Google Trainee Placed Fake Ad by Mistake

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A Google trainee placed a fake advert across a large number of websites and apps (via The Financial Times). The trainee accidentally placed a “buy” order during a training exercise. Nobody noticed the error for 45 minutes. The incident will cost the search giant millions of dollars.

The error, which happened late on Tuesday California time, saw the fake advert — a blank yellow rectangle — appear on many websites and in apps viewed in the US and Australia for a period of about 45 minutes. The failure to prevent such a basic human error is a black eye for Google, which has led the automation of online ad placement and is widely recognised as the leader in applying artificial intelligence to how such markets work.Google confirmed the mistake on Wednesday and said it would “honour payments to publishers for any ads purchased”. It would not comment on the scale of the problem, but one ad industry source put the potential cost at $10m.

Apple Still Hasn't Got 'Undo' Right on iOS

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iPM Silicone iPhone X Series Case

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber noticed something interesting when he was going through Apple’s Best of the Year awards. When talking about its iOS app of the year, Procreate, Apple had to explain how to Undo and Redo. This would not be necessary on a desktop – there are established conventions for these functions. While there are conventions iOS, they are not implemented with anywhere near the force they are on desktops and so for some apps something so seemingly basic required explanation.

What it comes down to, I think, is that the menu bar has become a vastly underestimated foundation of desktop computing. Once heralded, the menu bar is now seen as a vestige. I’m not arguing that iOS should have a Mac-style menu bar. I’m simply pointing out that without one, iOS is an 11-year-old platform that is still floundering to establish consistent conventions for some basic features, let alone complex ones, that are simple and obvious on the Mac.

The Ultimate Mobile App Development Certification Bundle: $41

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The Ultimate Mobile App Development Certification Bundle

We have a deal on the the Ultimate Mobile App Development Certification Bundle. It’s designed to be a complete 63-hour track for mastering the most up-to-date tools in mobile app development and design. It includes six different training courses covering iOS and Android, and it’s $41 through our deal.

Microsoft's Edge Browser Coming to macOS

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Microsoft Edge browser

Ever since Satya Nadella took over Microsoft as CEO, the company’s mantra has been to bring its tools and solutions to all popular platforms, not just Windows. This will be the case in 2019 with Microsoft’s Edge browser coming to macOS. It’s going with the Chromium flow. TechCrunch explains.

Microsoft Edge Browser Coming to macOS in 2019

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Microsoft Edge browser will be coming to the Mac next year. It was launched on iOS and VP Joe Belfiore made a blog post announcing it.

Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS.

Microsoft also announced that it will rebuild Edge using Chromium, a move that further solidifies Google’s Chrome hegemony. If you’re a Mac user and don’t like Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, I guess give Edge a try? Or use Chromium because it’s open source and Edge will be built on top of it anyway.

Apple Puts Third-Party Screen Time Apps on Timeout

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Apple is putting third-party screen time apps on timeout. Now that Apple has this capability built into iOS 12, these other apps are being sherlocked. I had a feeling this was coming, and that’s why I haven’t reviewed these screen time apps that certain companies email me about. Apple cites security concerns because this type of app usually uses things like fake VPNs, MDM, and using your background location.