How to Avoid the Horizontal Instagram Update

· Andrew Orr · Link

Facebook recently updated the Instagram app to add horizontal scrolling similar to Instagram Stories. The company then claimed it was an error and rolled it back.

Whether it’s cloning Snapchat or enabling an activity status, the photo platform is becoming bloated with features. We’ve searched the App Store to tell you about some Instagram alternatives, if you’re looking for one.

I’ll take this opportunity to point readers to four Instagram alternatives I previously wrote about. My personal favorite is VSCO. It’s focused on creativity, not how many followers you have, and there are no ads.

Instagram Tested a Horizontal Feed and People were not Happy

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Instagram briefly tested a horizontal feed on Thursday. The Verge reported that the test was pushed to a wider than expected audience. Not surprisingly, people freaked out. However, normal, vertical, service resumed after a short amount of time. The horizontal feed essentially turns a user’s feed into an Instagram story and makes it harder to quickly scroll through lots of posts.

Instagram has quietly started testing a horizontal feed for some users, a huge sideways shift from the vertically-scrolling user experience that’s been the norm since the app launched. The company had previously been testing the feature back in October, but it seems that it’s rolling it out more widely to users starting today. The new feed basically turns all posts into a single, giant Instagram story, complete with tapping to advance and a scrolling bar at the top to show you how far you’ve progressed. It’s certainly a jarring change for Instagram’s community, which has grown accustomed to the old feed.

White House Considering Blocking use of Huawei, ZTE Products

· Charlotte Henry · Link

huawei logo

U.S. President Donald Trump is considering an executive order that will declare a national emergency and block the use of equipment by Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE. An exclusive report by Reuters said that the order is unlikely to name the two companies explicitly but will be understood to authorize reduce the use of their equipment.

The executive order, which has been under consideration for more than eight months, could be issued as early as January and would direct the Commerce Department to block U.S. companies from buying equipment from foreign telecommunications makers that pose significant national security risks, sources from the telecoms industry and the administration said.

Apple's Future With Hardware, Software, and Services

· Andrew Orr · Link

Adam Estes writes that Apple’s future looks rotten, based on the premise that Apple is no longer about hardware, but about software and services too.

If Apple’s future really is all about services and not about hardware, what a rotten future that is. It probably won’t be rotten for Apple, a company with nearly $240 billion of cash on hand. Apple is rich and will almost certainly find all kinds of new ways to get richer. If that involves taking money from people in the form of subscriptions and fees instead of fun new gadgets, well, that sucks for Apple fans.

Mr. Estes links Apple’s “innovation nap” with the arrival of the bear market we seem to be heading in. I’m personally not sure why this means the company’s future is rotten, but doom and gloom stories sell better than happy stories.

More Android Users are Switching to iPhone

· Andrew Orr · Link

A report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that more Android users are switching to the iPhone.

The report found that 16 percent of iPhone buyers upgraded from an Android phone in the 30-day period after the launch of the iPhone XR. After the iPhone 8 and 8s were released in September 2017, 12 percent of iPhone buyers upgraded from an Android phone, and when the iPhone X was released in November 2017, that number was 11 percent.

Despite worries that the iPhone XR is dragging, it seems that this model is a popular model for Android users to switch to.

Now India Wants to Break Encryption Too

· Andrew Orr · Link

India wants to follow in Australia’s footsteps and break encryption with the use of automated tools.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) published the proposed rules on its website following a report on Monday by the Indian Express revealing the government’s proposal to modify the country’s primary IT law to work them in. The report comes days after India’s government seemingly authorized 10 federal agencies to snoop into every computer in the country last week.

As more countries follow suit, it’s not enough to say that companies should just pull out and not do business in that country anymore. We need to enable privacy regulations and other pro-consumer policies.

A Privacy Concept That Reimagines Apps and the Cloud

· Andrew Orr · Link

A website called The Cloud Fall shows a privacy concept that reimagines the relationship between apps, personal data, and the cloud.

The cloud cripples your data. Instagram has your photos, iMessage your messages and Google your documents. By splitting up our data, we prevent any AI from truly knowing us as individuals. And by giving away all control, we relegate ourselves to mindless drivers of engagement.

It’s a fascinating approach, and I hope ideas like this gain traction amongst tech companies. We need to let companies know that the age of using and abusing our personal data at will is over.

You Need a Password Manager. Here's Why

· Andrew Orr · Link

A password manager is an easy, secure way to store passwords and usernames for online accounts. You can also create new passwords with them.

Nobody likes passwords but they’re a fact of life. And while some have tried to kill them off by replacing them with fingerprints and face-scanning technology, neither are perfect and many still resort back to the trusty (but frustrating) password.

If you got a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac for Christmas and you’re looking for apps to download, make a password manager your first purchase. Popular ones include 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, and Bitwarden.

Apple and Disney Set to Challenge Netflix in 2019

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Netflix dominated the streaming space throughout 2018. However, in 2019, its rivals will be snapping right at its heels. In his latest Guardian column, Guy Lodge looked at how Apple and Disney are going to challenge the market leader in the next 12 months. Both companies plan to launch streaming services in the new year.

The more blockbuster-inclined, meanwhile, will be anticipating the long-hyped arrival of the Disney+ platform. Exclusively incorporating a vast range of properties from the Mouse House and 20th Century Fox, it’s the future player that is giving Netflix execs the most sleepless nights; though Apple’s planned global launch of its own streaming service in 2019 ought to make things interesting, too – with new projects from Damien Chazelle, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey on its planned slate.

Open Source Software had a Big 2018

· Charlotte Henry · Link

open source software homebrew

The past 12 months have been significant in the world of open source software. Some of the world’s biggest tech companies, such as Microsoft and IBM, dived headfirst into the field. However, as Wired notes, Linux creator Linus Torvalds apology for years of alleged unprofessional conduct underlined that “open source still has some growing up to do” as well.

“It’s not that these companies are new to open source. AT&T, for example, released an open source AI platformlast year. But it’s still a big deal to see Microsoft, which pioneered the modern software industry, and IBM, tech’s most venerable company, go all in on open source. This year’s acquisitions are significant risks for the two companies. If Microsoft alienates GitHub users, it could lose the goodwill it has built in the developer community in recent years. And $34 billion is a lot of money even for a behemoth like IBM. The companies’ willingness to take on these risks signals that they see open source not as a fad or an adjunct but as a core part of how companies will make software in the future.

Every Known Acquisition by Apple in 2018

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Apple buys Shazam song identification service

Apple made a number of interesting acquisitions during 2018. 9to5Mac put together a useful round-up of all the deals that were made public. The purchases of song-identification service Shazam and media-aggregation app Texture stood out for me. However, deals in the areas of data, analytics, and AI were also highly significant and hinted at Apple’s future direction.

Over the course of a year, it’s easy to forget about the numerous deals a company the size of Apple makes – and there are likely more deals that have already been made behind the scenes but haven’t yet become public. Apple’s landmark deals of 2018 include its acquisitions of Texture and Shazam, as well as its $600 million deal with Dialog. The smaller acquisitions, however, indicate Apple’s evolving interest in data, analytics, AI, and much more.

Be Careful About Which iOS Apps Track Your Location

· John Martellaro · Link

Spy in the data

At the Intego Security Blog, Kirk McElhearn writes: “The New York Times published an article this week about how apps are recording your location and selling the data to companies that “sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior.” Kirk walks us through iOS Settings and how to restrict which apps can track our location. Good stuff.

2018 Apps You'll Want to Check Out For iOS

· Andrew Orr · Link

I don’t plan to write up a ‘Best Of’ app roundup like I did last year. Instead I recommend everyone read Federico Viticci’s comprehensive list for 2018 apps.

Below, you’ll find a collection of the 60 apps I consider my must-haves on the iPhone and iPad, organized in nine categories; whenever possible, I included links to original reviews and past coverage on MacStories.

Launch Center Pro Can Now Use NFC Tags

· Andrew Orr · Link

Launch Center Pro is similar to Shortcuts. It helps you set up automated tasks. Now that Apple has opened up NFC a bit, Launch Center Pro can now make use of NFC tags.

During the beta, testers used the stickers for a variety of tasks, like launching directions to their next event from a sticker placed in the car, or one that sent their ETA to their loved one and launched directions home. Other testers put a sticker in the fridge to launch a shopping list to add new items to; or placed stickers around the home to trigger HomeKit shortcuts; or placed a sticker by their bedside to help them set alarms, and more.

A cool blend of the physical and digital worlds. You can put an NFC tag anywhere.

Arduino Uno Ultimate Starter Kit and Course Bundle: $44.19

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

Arduino Kit

We have a deal on the Vilros Uno Ultimate Starter Kit and course bundle. In addition to the starter kit (board, components, and more), you also get 11 hours of training content with hundreds of lectures. This deal is $51.99 through us, but coupon code MERRY15 at checkout brings it down to $44.19.

Phone Repair Employees Accused of Stealing Nudes

· Andrew Orr · Link

Phone repair employees from Flint Audio Studio in Middletown, Rhode Island have been accused of stealing nudes from customers’ smartphones.

An RI State Police investigation has found that 13 women between the ages of 22 and 47 never gave anyone from Flint permission to go through their “media files, make copies and later disseminate them.” Nonetheless, the women allege that store employees stole and shared their nude images and videos.

My first thought was about the apps I’ve reviewed specifically for hiding nudes. But instead I’ll comment that you shouldn’t need to go out of your way to hide nudes. People shouldn’t be rooting around in your camera roll in the first place. Although I do think it would be great if Apple let us lock/hide entire albums.

Alexa Experiment Caused Some Really Creepy Things to Happen

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Amazon Echo Dot responding to

In 2016, Amazon launched an annual prize for computer science students, with the aim of improving Alexa’s conversational abilities. Users can say “let’s chat” and participate in the experiment. However, while there have been improvements to Alexa, Reuters learned that the experiment produced some very dark moments too.

But Alexa’s gaffes are alienating others, and Bezos on occasion has ordered staff to shut down a bot, three people familiar with the matter said. The user who was told to whack his foster parents wrote a harsh review on Amazon’s website, calling the situation “a whole new level of creepy.” A probe into the incident found the bot had quoted a post without context from Reddit, the social news aggregation site, according to the people.

Should Apple Remove WhatsApp For Child Porn?

· Andrew Orr · Link

It seems that WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging app, has had a problem with users sharing child porn. Apple removed Tumblr from the App Store because people were sharing CP on its platform. Should Apple remove WhatsApp as well?

A report from two Israeli NGOs reviewed by TechCrunch details how third-party apps for discovering WhatsApp groups include “Adult” sections that offer invite links to join rings of users trading images of child exploitation.

Policing WhatsApp is more difficult than Tumblr due to the former’s use of encryption. But it seems that these abusive chat groups had child porn in the group name itself, so they aren’t exactly sneaking around. Maybe Apple needs to give WhatsApp a time out.

Rumours of Fifth-Generation iPad Mini Reported in China

· Charlotte Henry · Link

The China Business Times reported that there will be two low-priced iPad models launched in 2019. AppleInsider picked up on the speculation. It reported that a new, low cost,  7.9 inch iPad will be released in the first of half the year. This all seems entirely possible. After all, the iPad Mini has not been updated since September 2015. But before users get too excited, the report also pointed out that “while the China Business Times has a good track record with supply chain information, like the iPad display panel topic, it has a poor track record in predicting Apple’s future product plans.”

China Business Times sources claim Apple will be launching two low-priced models of the iPad in 2019. It is alleged Apple is doing so because it saw “outstanding results” for the 2017 9.7-inch iPad followed by a sales decline, allegedly due to it not releasing a “new low-priced iPad” in 2018, though the launch of the 2018 iPad in March suggests this means the fiscal 2018 rather than calendar year.

Inside the demise of Uber founder Travis Kalanick

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Travis Kalanick

The demise of Uber’s founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick was nearly as dramatic as his company’s rise. Mr. Kalanick quit as CEO in June, after a prolonged period of scandal. He tried to negotiate a graceful exit but, as Bloomberg Businessweek detailed, in the end, it was a typically chaotic departure.

Then, contrition period over, [Mr. Kalanick] got up, called a board member, demanded a new PR strategy, and embarked on a yearlong starring role as the villain who gets his comeuppance in the most gripping startup drama since the dot-com bubble. It’s a story that, until now, has never been fully told.