New Exploit Shows We Should Just Skip to iOS 13.1

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A contacts exploit was discovered in iOS 13 that lets a person bypass Face ID / Touch ID to see an iPhone’s contacts.

Relatively little is at stake with this exploit. Beyond the inherent danger of an assailant having your iPhone, this method only allows someone to view the contacts within the target iPhone, provided that they have physical access to the target phone and can complete the VoiceOver exploit.

Little is at stake, but there have been so my iOS exploits in the news lately that we might as well go straight to iOS 13.1.

T-Mobile Offers iPhone 11 for 50% Off With a Trade In

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T-Mobile has an aggressive strategy for the iPhone 11: People who sign up for a plan and trade in an old iPhone can get the iPhone 11 for up to 50% off.

Here’s the full pricing break down from T-Mobile: Save $550 when you trade in an iPhone XS Max 64GB or 256GB; save $500 when you trade in an iPhone XS 64GB or 256GB; and save $350 when you trade in an iPhone XR 64GB or 128GB, X 64GB, 8, 8 Plus, 7 or 7 Plus.

Those are great deals, especially for people with older models like the iPhone 7.

Uber Pushes Back Against New California Contractor Law

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Uber pushed back against a new employment law in California, Wired reported. The law was designed with ride-hailing apps in mind, trying to get them classify drivers as employees not contractors.

The company’s argument rests on a premise that’s been a cornerstone since its early days: that Uber is a technology company, not a transportation one. The California law, called Assembly Bill 5, reaffirms a 2018 California Supreme Court decision that established a three-part test to separate independent contractors from employees, who are eligible for minimum wage, health care benefits, workers’ compensation, and other protections. A worker is only an independent contractor if she is not under the control or direction of the company while she’s working; if her work is “outside the usual course” of the company’s business; and if she is “customarily engaged” in the same kind of work that she does for the company. This three-part test is already in limited use in Massachusetts and New York.

NSA Publishes Threatening Letter Calling for Encryption Backdoors

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Glenn S. Gerstell, general counsel for the National Security Agency (NSA) published a letter in the New York Times, writing about how a “digital revolution threatens to upend our entire national security infrastructure.” He thinks backdoors into encryption is one answer (of course he doesn’t use the word backdoor), as well as the agency collecting even more data from citizens. Read his letter by clicking the link below, then read this take by Nefarious Laboratories.

Make no mistake, this letter is a thinly-veiled threat to every major corporation around the globe: provide the U.S. government with access to all of your data or else, “there is another path, and it is the one taken by authoritarian regimes around the world”.

iPhone Naming Conventions Are a Mess

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Ken Segall writes (Sep. 9) that it’s time to dump both the “i” in iPhone as well as the alphabet soup.

I think it’s amazingly cool that the i-thing happened, but everything has a beginning and an end. The trick is knowing when to end.

Smarts and forward-thinking always beats clinging to the past.

The truth is, Apple has already made the i-decision. It’s been years since a new i-product appeared. Apple Watch, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple Card—all would be i-things under the old rules.

Apple dropped the alphabet soup on Sep. 10 along with the bizarre “X” vs. “ten.” Will the “i” be next?

Hotel Lobbyists Fight Airbnb by Undermining the Internet

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Hotel lobbyists don’t like Airbnb and its competition, so they’re introducing a bill to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

And they’re not just focused on pushing this loophole for Airbnb. It appears they’re going all in on stripping Section 230 protections from any internet service hosting 3rd party content. As part of this, they recently released what can only be described as a push poll to mislead people about Airbnb, the laws around these issues, and Section 230. Each question in the poll is at best actively misleading and at worst, completely bullshit.

This Fall, HomePod Will Have Ambient Sounds, Multi-User Mode

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Apple didn’t mention the HomePod on stage yesterday, but Benjamin Mayo reports that a product refresh will appear later this fall.

A new forthcoming feature is called Ambient Sounds. This will allow users to easily play white noise sounds on their HomePods, including ocean waves, birdsong, rainstorms, and more. Right now, users are forced to AirPlay from another iOS device to easily play relaxing background audio on HomePod. Ambient Sounds will make this a first-party feature, fully integrated with Siri.

If Apple ever comes out with a cheaper HomePod, I’d probably buy one just for the ambient sounds.

Apple Watch Series 5 Starts With 32GB of Storage

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Amazingly, the Apple Watch Series 5 will start at 32GB of storage, doubling the Series 4 storage point of 16GB.

At 32GB of storage for both GPS and Cellular models, the Apple WatchSeries 5 offers double the storage of the previous Series 4 models. Apple may have increased the storage in the new device due to the Apple Watch App Store that’s available in watchOS 6, set to be released on September 19.

Now if only watchOS 6 had the Files app so I could store a copy of my data on it.

iPhone 11 Gets Muted Response in Asia

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iPhone 11 reveal

There was much fanfare around the launch of the iPhone 11 Tuesday. However, Reuters reported, that the new device did not receive su a warm welcome in Asia.

The iPhone 11, launched on Tuesday for $50 less than last year’s base XR model, was met with a limp response from social media users in Asian markets that are dominated by Huawei Technologies and Samsung Electronics. Despite the reduction, the iPhone 11, and even the higher-end models with more camera lenses, are set to come up short in Asia. “Apple’s new phones were no surprise at all. Only tangible change is having an additional camera on their premium model,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Seoul-based Cape Investment & Securities.

Libraries Work to Scan Public Domain Books

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Right now, books published in the U.S. before 1924 are in the public domain. This means they are publicly owned and everyone can use and copy them. But there’s a loophole in copyright law which gives up to 75% of books published between 1923 and 1964 secret public domain status. It’s hard to figure out which ones they are, so a group of libraries, archivists, and volunteers are finding these public domain books, scanning them, and uploading them to the internet.

Richardson notes that much of that heavy lifting is being done by volunteers at organizations like Project Gutenberg, a nonprofit effort to digitize and archive cultural works. These volunteers are tasked with locating a copy of the book in question, scanning it, proofing it, then putting out HTML and plain-text editions.

macOS Catalina Isn't Coming Until October

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Apple updated its website today, noting that macOS Catalina won’t arrive until an unknown date in October. From TechCrunch:

After a summer of beta testing, Apple is about to release the next major version of macOS: macOS Catalina. But not so fast; the new version will arrive in October, according to Apple’s updated website. As always, this update will be available as a free download in the Mac App Store.

The software release dates are all over the place this year.

Mozilla VPN Launches Under Test Pilot Program

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Firefox Private Network is a Mozilla VPN launching under its old Test Pilot program. It’s available as a beta today for U.S. users with a Firefox account.

In a nutshell, the Firefox Private Network extension will provide a “secure, encrypted path to the web” to protect the user’s Wi-Fi connection and data contained within the Firefox browser. One of the scenarios Mozilla thinks Firefox Private Network will be useful for is when connecting to the internet through public Wi-Fi hotspots, as it will shield personal information and conceal what websites a user is visiting.

McDonalds Purchases AI Firm to Speed up Drive-Thru

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McDonalds purchased Apprente Tuesday, as it doubled down on AI investment . The move followed its purchase of another AI firm, Dynamic Yield, earlier in 2019. The idea, reported Wired, is to help speed up drive-thru and get you your Big Mac quicker.

Apprente’s speech-based artificial intelligence deals within the relatively narrow confines of quick-service restaurants. As with Dynamic Yield’s decision engine, which switches up menu items based on what it thinks consumers want at any given time and location, Apprente’s ultimate goal is to increase the speed of any given transaction. Anyone who’s had to repeat their order into a squawking speaker knows that pain. Apprente calls its technology “sound-to-meaning,” in contrast to “speech-to-text.” The distinction, other than having a nice ring to it, is that unlike many voice AI models, Apprente says it does not transcribe what the customer says, and then infer meaning from that transcript. It goes directly from speech signals to result.

Apple Backs Increasing Songwriter Pay. No Other Streaming Service Agrees.

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When the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) ruled that songwriters should get paid more per stream, Apple agreed. All the other major music platforms did not. Instead, they chose to appeal the ruling. Music Business Worldwide explained the ongoing legal wranglings.

Spotify, Amazon, Google, and SiriusXM/Pandora are now appealing this ruling because, to cut a long story short, they argue it could unfairly advantage Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and Warner Music Group — who all own both major record companies and major music publishers. Apple stands alone in refusing to appeal the CRB’s judgement. Spotify et al’s appeal, filed last month, argues that, to avoid giving the major music companies too much power, a ‘cap’ should have been introduced by the CRB Judges, which would ensure that no method of payout to publishers could ever exceed the equivalent of $0.80 per paying subscriber, each month, of each service.

50 Attorneys General Launch Google Antitrust Probe

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Attorneys general from 48 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico launched an antitrust probe into Google Monday. The drive was led by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, CNBC reported. It followed the launched of similar action against Facebook on Friday.

The probe includes attorneys general from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. California and Alabama are not nvolved in the probe, Paxton said at a press conference. Other attorneys general at the media conference emphasized Google’s dominance in the ad market and use of consumer data. “When there is no longer a free market or competition, this increases prices, even when something is marketed as free, and harms consumers,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican. “Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information? Is something really free if online ad prices go up based on one company’s control?”

 

The (In)Security Behind Trump's Twitter Account

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According to an investigation of President Trump’s Twitter security, his account might be vulnerable to being hacked, although some disagree.

The source who shared information about Trump’s Twitter security said they don’t believe the account will be hacked, but that the risk should be kept in perspective. “Remember we are talking about access to a Twitter account, not access to the nuclear launch codes,” they said. “While the optics would be bad if the account were ever hacked, it would not be a national crisis.”