A Deeper Analysis of Apple's Mini Crisis

· John Martellaro · Link

Apple Park, Apple's new San Jose headquarters, opens in April 2017

Sometimes, well almost always, it’s good to wait awhile after Apple encounters a crisis of some sort and not get swept up in the venting, rage and fury. Later, cooler, experienced heads weigh in. This time it’s Ben Thompson at Stratechery. “As rare as last week’s Apple revenue warning from CEO Tim Cook may have been — the company last issued a revenue warning in June 2002 — the company has had other bad quarters in the iPhone era.” This is great analysis, worth reading.

Browser Fingerprinting? DuckDuckGo says DuckDuckNo!

· Andrew Orr · Link

In a Whonix forum a person alleged that DuckDuckGo was using browser fingerprinting techniques to track people. The search engine denies the claim however.

“Fingerprinting-detection libraries unfortunately create false positives because they don’t anticipate good actors using some browser APIs for non-nefarious purposes for which they were designed. We know this not only because we’re falsely identified here (and have been elsewhere) but because we are building this type of detection into our mobile app and browser extension and don’t similarly want to make false claims.”

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg said an API they use to determine the size of the browser might be triggering the fingerprinting flag.

RCS, Successor to SMS, Could Come to Apple Devices

· Andrew Orr · Link

RCS is a technology touted as the replacement for SMS. It will bring rich, iMessage-like features to texting, and major carriers support it. And it sounds like Apple is interested.

According to the purported slide from the conference, Apple has “engaged in discussions with the GSMA and Operators about including RCS in iOS.” This is inherently vague and doesn’t offer too many details about the extent to which Apple is involved, but the pitch seems to center on three things.

I find it unfortunate that RCS seems to only support encryption during transport, and not end-to-end encryption. Governments around the world would probably not let end-to-end encryption become so widespread.

Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Talks Time Off and Time Magazine

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Salesforce boss Marc Benioff is one of tech’s most compelling and surprising characters and has been for a long time. This summer, he made a decision that caught most people unawares – he named a co-CEO. A CNBC interview with Mr. Benioff reveals how time off this summer made he decide to focus only on the things he loves and touches on his purchase of Time Magazine.

Weeks at work are filled with dinners, parties, events and business council meetings exclusively for CEOs, meaning that if anyone from Salesforce is to attend, it has to be him. Meanwhile, he’s trying to run a 30,000-person company, build Salesforce towers across the globe, bolster his philanthropy, invest in start-ups, mentor other business leaders and become a louder voice on a number of social and political issues. “So I made a very good decision — to have two CEOs,” Benioff said with a laugh, during a recent interview at his home in San Francisco. “Then it’s a divide and conquer strategy.” Following his time off the grid, Benioff flew to Hawaii refreshed and resolved to focus only on the things in life he enjoys.

M.G. Siegler's 2018 Homescreen and How it Changed

· Andrew Orr · Link

I love reading about how other people use their devices, and every year M.G. Siegler shares how his home screen evolves over time.

We all have our apps that we use on a daily basis. And for new ones to break in, they don’t just have to be better, they have to be so much better that they’re worth replacing another app. More specifically, the time you use another app.

Readers will know I’m a fiend when it comes to organization. So for my iPhone and iPad I keep my most-used apps on the home screen, and organize them all alphabetically.

Apple's International Privacy Trade-Offs

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Apple and privacy

LONDON – Apple has for a long time proudly flaunted its pro-privacy values. It, quite fairly, highlights how its products are aligned with these values, especially when compared to its competitors.  However, this is coming under increasing strain. According to a Techcrunch report, European customers, in particular, are beginning to question whether Apple is still putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to privacy. Deals with Google and its ongoing presence in China, are leaving Apple walking something of a tightrope.

Far from Apple’s troubles in emerging markets and China, the company is attracting the ire of what should really be a core supporter demographic naturally aligned with the pro-privacy stance CEO Tim Cook has made into his public soapbox in recent years — but which is instead crying foul over perceived hypocrisy. The problem for this subset of otherwise loyal European iPhone users is that Apple isn’t offering enough privacy.

It is Still Down to Humans to Fight Fake News

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Fake News - Pinocchio nose with

2019 is undoubtedly going to be a big year in AI. The discussion over fake news will continue too. Sean Gourley, CEO of machine intelligence company Primer, wrote in Wired that while progress in AI is being made, at the moment humans, not algorithms, need to lead the fight against fake news. I know from my own research into fake news how important a role bots play in the spread of disinformation. Unfortunately, the technology is not yet discerning enough to be relied upon to separate fact from fiction. AI has not been able to fight back. It may be able to one day, but until then, it is down to us humans.

One of the reasons that computational propaganda has been so successful is that the naïve, popularity-based filtering systems employed by today’s leading social networks have proven to be fragile and susceptible to targeted fake information attacks.To solve this problem, we will need to design algorithms that amplify our intelligence when we’re interacting together in large groups. The good news is that the latest research into such systems looks promising.

 

Apple TV 4K Features HDMI 2.0a. But HDMI 2.1 is Coming

· John Martellaro · Link

Apple TV 4K event logo

4K/UHD TV is now mainstream.  But new 8K TVs are coming. CNET writes: “The current version of the ubiquitous HDMI [2.0] audio video connection can handle pretty much every video format available today, but with 8K on the horizon, TV and other hardware makers could hit its limits in the next few years. That’s where HDMI 2.1 comes in.”

This article fills you in on the new standard, what video protocols it supports, which TV makers are moving to it in 2019, and whether you’ll need new cables.

Amazon Go Stores Could be Worth Over $4 Billion by 2021

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Amazon Go

Amazon Go could be a multi-billion dollar business for the retail giant, according to new figures reported by Re/Code. Analysts at RBC Capital Markets concluded that Amazon Go stores could earn 50% more than conventional stores. They found that the average store generates an estimated $1.5 million in revenue annually.  Amazon plans to open up to 3,000 stores over the next two years, meaning the business could be worth around $4.5 billion by 2021. However, each store requires a $1 million investment in hardware before it opens.

Amazon’s new cashless, cashierless stores — which allow customers to just grab items off shelves and automatically get charged upon exiting, thanks to a bevy of sensors and cameras — bring in about 50 percent more revenue on average than typical convenience stores, according to new estimates from RBC Capital Markets analysts.

Manage iPhone Privacy With This iMore Guide

· Andrew Orr · Link

Rene Ritchie put together a good iMore guide to manage your online information and privacy settings.

Now, just to be clear, these aren’t security tips. I’ll cover those in another column. These are privacy tips. They’re ways to make sure people and companies learn as little as possible about you, while you still get the most you can from them. Cool?

It’s a good guide and everyone should read it. It’s full of tips to manage privacy settings on iPhone and online accounts. While you’re at it, check out my guide where I include privacy apps I’ve used.

Hold Your iPhone Like a Camera with Shuttercase: $40.49

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

Shuttercase

We have a deal on the Shuttercase, a case for your iPhone designed to make it easier to take photographs. It has a physical button for snapping photos, and it has a 3,000mAh battery built into it that is placed to let you hold your iPhone like you’d hold a SLR/DSLR camera. It’s $49.99 through our deal, but coupon code NEWYEAR2019 at checkout takes off 19%, bringing it down to $40.49. I’m linking to the black model designed for iPhone X/XS, but there are white and red options, as well as black model for iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus.

Apple is Better Placed than Most to Ride Out a Tech Downturn

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Despite the events of this week, in which Apple offered a revenue warning and saw its share price take a hit, the company is better placed than most other tech firms to ride out an economic storm. That’s the view of Tim Culpan, who ran the numbers for Bloomberg News. While we’ve heard warnings about the tech bubble bursting for years now, the piece certainly helps give some useful context to recent events.

When I first ran the numbers on a selection of nine companies — a mix of branded electronics, product assemblers and chipmakers — I concluded that the decade-long tech party looked headed for a nasty hangover. I’ve now added September-quarter figures to the same analysis, which includes inventory levels, turnover and cash conversion cycles. The situation is even uglier than four months ago. Apple’s warning this week that it won’t meet revenue guidance proves the initial concerns to be true, but it’s only a small part of the industry’s woes.

Weather Channel Accused of Mining User Data

· Andrew Orr · Link

The Los Angeles city attorney has filed a lawsuit saying that the Weather Channel collects user data for commercial purposes, not just to provide local forecasts.

The government said the Weather Company, the business behind the app, unfairly manipulated users into turning on location tracking by implying that the information would be used only to localize weather reports. Yet the company, which is owned by IBM, also used the data for unrelated commercial purposes, like targeted marketing and analysis for hedge funds, according to the lawsuit.

The New York Times uses the word “covert” in its headline. It’s not that covert though. The Weather Channel has a How is My Data Used page. I’m not defending them but people really need to start reading privacy policies and service terms. Although using dark patterns to obfuscate this is wrong.

Human War Follows a Universal Mathematical Law

· Andrew Orr · Link

Here’s something you don’t read every day. A new study of human war over the past 600 years that it appears to follow power law distribution.

The thinking goes like this. Society is a complex web of social, political, and economic forces that depend on the network of links between individuals and the countries they represent. These links are constantly rearranging, sometimes because of violence and death. When the level of rearrangement and associated violence rises above a threshold level, we describe the resulting pattern as war.

The second step is building a machine learning system that can predict when the next large-scale conflict is likely to occur. Or maybe we’ll have dystopian war AIs that will use this information against us.

Apple Services are Where the Growth is Now

· Andrew Orr · Link

After some rough financial news, Tim Cook is reassuring investors that Apple isn’t done growing by highlighting Apple services.

Step back from the gyrations of the moment, and there’s an emerging strategy for Apple: Sell fewer iPhones and assorted devices such as Macs and iWatches at a higher price than mass-market rivals, and then flood those millions of users–who have more than average disposable income because they were able to afford those devices in the first place–with apps and content that they will pay for.

I expect big improvements in Apple services in the future. Better iCloud storage, an Apple News content subscription (which I will happily pay for if it means no longer needing to visit ad tracking-riddled websites), an Apple video subscription, and more.

First Images of Galaxy S10 Posted Online

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Galaxy S10

The first images of the Galaxy S10 have appeared online, just under two months before Samsung’s likely announcement of the phone. The images were posted by known gadget leaker and VentureBeat reporter Evan Blass on Twitter, and reported on The Verge. The Galaxy S10 looks to have thin bezels around all the edges, a camera cutout on the top right-hand corner, and a hint of chin towards the bottom.

The photo shows a phone with a nearly full-screen design that’s disrupted only by a camera cutout in the top-right corner and thin bezels around each edge. There’s just the slightest additional thickness for a chin on the bottom. Blass indicates that this will be the standard version of the Galaxy S10. A cheaper model is also expected along with a larger Plus model and a 5G model. Samsung typically announces its Galaxy S phones at the end of February.

Eight Depressing, Illuminating Months With a Flip Phone

· John Martellaro · Link

A Flip Phone

Sometimes, an author can get away with writing about anything if it’s done with charm and grace. In this case Wired’s Jason Kehe decided to try living with a flip phone for eight months to see what he might learn. The story is not so much about the awkward disconnectedness of it all, but rather the remarkable social and technical impact.

Frankly, I’m embarrassed to write about this semifailed experiment. Disconnection has become the most congratulated, least convincing narrative gimmick of recent times, a widely excusable hypocrisy.

The author writes with a certain colorful, literary irony and sparkle. As a result, his social commentary about our fixation and dependence on the smartphone is delightful reading in and of itself. And yet, and yet, the author manages to make us ponder. What have we done to ourselves as humans?

Synchronize Data Between Your Mac and Android Devices: $12.14

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

SyncMate 7

We have a deal on SyncMate 7. This software allows you to sync data between Macs, Android devices, and cloud storage services, including contacts, calendars, folders and files, bookmarks, and more. It’s $14.99 through our deal, but NEWYEAR2019 at checkout takes of 19% for a price of $12.14.

Apple Watch Saved Woman Trapped in Car

· Andrew Orr · Link

A woman from Florida was recently saved by her Apple Watch after she was trapped in a car underwater.

Amanda Antonio told first responders in Hillsborough County, Fla., that she used her Apple Watch to locate her iPhone to call 9-1-1 after her car rolled in a ditch full of mud and water. “It’s up to my waist,” Antonio said according to a transcript of the call obtained by Spectrum Bay News 9, a television station covering the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. She later said, “It’s now up to my chin. I’m freezing. I’m so scared.”

Kids' Programming Language Scratch 3.0 Now Available

· Andrew Orr · Link

Scratch is a programming language for kids and recently celebrated the launch of Scratch 3.0. The update adds new functionalities.

Scratch 3.0 is the next generation of Scratch – designed to expand how, what, and where you can create with Scratch. It includes dozens of new sprites, a totally new sound editor, and many new programming blocks. And with Scratch 3.0, you are able to create and play projects on your tablet, in addition to your laptop or desk computer.