Apple is going to make it tougher for advertisers to track you. Facebook is pissed!


Michael Short/Getty

Sometime next month, iPhone users will start seeing a new question when they use many of the apps on their devices: Do they want the app to follow them around the internet, tracking their behavior?

It’s a simple query, with potentially significant consequences. Apple is trying to single-handedly change the way internet advertising works.

That will affect everyone, from Apple’s giant tech rivals — most notably, Facebook, which announced today that it’s fighting back against Apple’s move — to any developer or publisher that uses ad technology to monitor what their app users are doing on the internet.

And it affects you, the person reading this story. At stake is your online privacy — and the advertising system that underwrites an endless supply of free content.

Apple announced its plan in June at its annual developer’s conference. But it hasn’t generated much attention outside of ad tech circles yet.

That will likely change in mid-September when the company is expected to roll out its new operating system, iOS 14.

Looking forward to that introduction of iOS 14 for a few reasons. Their new privacy system being #1. From my perspective, it’s going to be fun.

Apple Still Won’t Help the FBI Break Into iPhones. Good.

That’s the title of an Opinion Piece published in Bloomberg News.

There are two important lessons in this week’s announcement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has finally succeeded in cracking two mobile phones belonging to Mohammed Alshamrani, the aviation student who killed three people last December at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.

The first lesson is that cracking an encrypted device takes time and effort even when the federal government brings all its resources to bear. The second is that Apple still refuses to build tools to make hacking its mobile devices easier.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m happy about both.

RTFA. Stephen Carter makes a decent – albeit flawed – case for the first lesson. I’ll stick with his support for the second on principle.

The flaw? He thinks the cost of resources required to hack into anyone’s phone is prohibitive and, therefore, self-limiting. We have government agencies that gleefully waste billion$ on anachronistic military devices, pet projects for totally anal politicians, self-congratulatory research on regulations premised upon moving this nation in just about any direction but forward. Don’t count on wasting money as a problem.

Apple, Google team up on ‘contact tracing’ software to combat spread of COVID-19


Click to see where this can lead – with consent

Starting in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities to track the spread of COVID-19. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

Apple and Google will work over time to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform. Both companies will incorporate the functionality in Android and iOS as a whole, which allows more individuals to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities. Apple says that the deeper integration will arrive “in the coming months.”

Easier to understand when you RTFA. If folks consent to be identified, they can be. If not, you will still be notified if you’ve been in contact, nearby or whatever with someone who has tested positive in the past 14 days. You go and get yourself tested for your own good.

Who wins, who loses

❝ Camera sales are continuing to fall off a cliff. And will continue to do so as the capabilities of camera phones keep increasing. [Today] Apple…announced a three-camera iPhone 11 —just like Google, Huawei, Samsung and every other phone maker. In 2020, Apple’s iPhone is likely to have cameras with the ability to see how far things are thanks to a new “time of flight” sensor. This will essentially give the phone super sight, and thus, the phones will be great for augmented reality and make computer vision even more powerful…

❝ Apple isn’t the only one who is imagining such cameras on their devices. Phone makers are spending billions of dollars on their camera capabilities because — as Xiaomi co-founder and CEO Lei Jun said in an internal document — “camera functions have become a decisive factor for smartphone purchases among many consumers.” The company set up a separate division and gave it a lot of resources to compete in the market. Why not? It is up against giants, who keep throwing up bigger and better devices…

❝ A lot of traditionalists dismiss my arguments, but in reality, if a generation or two is growing up on a steady diet of cameras-on-phones and consuming visual data on digital screens, they will have little use for special cameras… I also argue that Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei are outspending the traditional camera makers exponentially. That is why we will continue to see massive gains in computational photography and camera-phone technologies versus traditional cameras.

Aside from being one of the smartest writers on the technology block…and a helluva photographer in his own right…Om Malik comprehends time and learning, experience and practice, as motive factors in the course of culture. RTFA.

Facebook wants to manage your wifi network for you

❝ Back in 2017, Facebook rolled out the “Find Wi-Fi” feature globally, a feature that lists the nearby Wi-Fi networks that Page owners shared with Facebook. Two years later, Facebook is working to expand this feature from being a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks to a service that manages the Wi-Fi connections on the device.

❝ Facebook needs more geolocation data to hyper-target advertising and information — but mostly advertising — and know even more personal information about you. Of course, it can also learn what services you use and when you use them with this connection manager. They have learned well from their big brother, Google. Sigh!

Which is why I have such a negative attitude towards Facebook and Google. They are exclusively profit-driven creatures. Loyal only to the ethos, motivations of 19th Century capitalism. Given the profit structure of high tech, it’s unneeded. Apple [and others] have proven that.

Google and Amazon follow Apple’s lead on voice assistant review

❝ Apple on Thursday suspended its Siri grading program, which seeks to make the virtual assistant more accurate by having workers review snippets of recorded audio, after a contractor raised privacy concerns about the quality control process.

Now, Apple’s competitors in the space, namely Google and Amazon, are making similar moves to address criticism about their own audio review policies

❝ Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Google in a statement to Ars Technica on Friday said it, too, halted a global initiative to review Google Assistant audio. Like Siri grading, Google’s process runs audio clips by human operators to enhance system accuracy.

Unlike Apple’s Siri situation, however, a contractor at one of Google’s international review centers leaked 1,000 recordings to VRT NWS, a news organization in Belgium. In a subsequent report in July, the publication claimed it was able to identify people from the audio clips…

❝ Amazon is also taking steps to temper negative press about its privacy practices and on Friday rolled out a new Alexa option that allows users to opt out of human reviews of audio recordings, Bloomberg reports. Enabling the feature in the Alexa app excludes recorded audio snippets from analysis.

Many of the articles posted on this topic never mentioned anonymizing and using random quotes. I have no doubt the folks who produced those articles were aware of the practice. I imagine they decided that might diminish their sensational revelation.

Using anonymous clips used to be “good enough” – in my experience. Nowadays, with rising privacy standards acknowledged by most, Apple, Amazon and Google are changing practices with changing times.

Something else that will become “opt in” or “opt out”.

Apple’s next-gen iPhone/iPad iOS adds feature to block criminal and political snoops – and coppers!


appletoolbox.com

❝ Apple in a statement to AppleInsider on Wednesday said iOS 12’s incarnation of “USB Restricted Mode” will thwart not just criminals, but searches by spies and police.

❝ In regards to law enforcement, the feature was created to protect iPhone owners in countries where the police seize phones at will. The move is aimed at regions with fewer legal protections than the U.S…

❝ Apple decided to make improvements to iOS security after learning of iPhone cracking techniques being used by both criminals and law enforcement agencies…With USB Restricted Mode, those attempting to gain unwarranted access to an iPhone will have an hour or less to reach a cracking device before being locked out.

Bravo! Apple still leads the pack when it comes to concern for individual privacy, offering protection ignored by many in the tech industry. And a helluva lot of politicians, pimps and police.

APPLE, INFLUENCE, AND IVE

❝ Sir Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer of Apple, Inc., is sitting across from me at a seamless white oak table. We’ve met a few times before, and I know he cares about watches. He must, right? But I’ve never actually asked him. So I do. And thank God, he does – he recounts a tale of buying an Omega Speedmaster Professional in the early ’90s. I exhale, because the hypothesis of this interview, at least in my mind (likely not in Apple’s), is that the watch industry and its all-too-vocal supporters have got it all wrong. Jony, the creator of what is, by at least one definition, the number one watch on Earth, is a friend, not a foe. But, like any great question of power and influence, it’s not so simple.

Read the article through from the beginning. I’ve always found Jony Ive fascinating. I’ve been fortunate enough to know, casually or well and deeply, a fair number of creative talents in my journey through this life of mine. So, no surprises. But, the eloquence of curiosity, perception coupled with high standards, makes this an interesting read. One worth reflecting upon. And reading, again.

Thanks, Om Malik – no surprise finding a great read via Om’s blog

The Unrelenting American Disease

❝ The U.S. is big, and getting bigger. Since the 1980s, American adults’ obesity is at epidemic proportions, and there does not seem to be an end in sight…

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey…which takes various measures of the health and nutrition of children and adults in the U.S…using interviews and physical exams.

❝ The CDC results were mixed: in the young, the prevalence of obesity was 16.8 percent in 2007; it was 18.5 percent 10 years later.

There were no significant differences when looking at age or gender, but that’s still nearly 2 out of every 10 kids weighing in as obese. Our youth aren’t in the clear just yet.

For adults, it was a more stark story: obesity increased from 33.7 percent to 39.6 percent over 10 years — it stood out most in women, and in adults over 40. That’s a shocking 2 out of 5 adults.

If you can find the right switch to turn on in your personality, I believe you can turn this around. Yes, you need all the tools: better nutrition, exercise – many levels and qualities of exercise – support from folks most important to your personal life [my wife makes more difference than anything]. But, if I can make changes at my advanced age, anyone can. I took off 60 lbs in the last 16 months. I now weigh what I did in 1955.

Yes, my iPhone, iPad, Apple’s Health Kit – along with linked software and a Bluetooth scale all helped. I’ve always been a geek. 🙂

Apple counters FBI whining – called Feds immediately about unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone

❝ Apple…reached out to the FBI to offer assistance in getting into the gunman’s iPhone and expedite its response to any legal process. The attack, which left 26 dead and many more injured, was committed by now-deceased Devin P. Kelley, who is confirmed to have been carrying an iPhone that may have crucial information about his activities in the lead up to the shooting.

❝ The FBI originally cast blame on Apple yesterday without mentioning the company by name, with FBI special agent Christopher Combs blaming industry standard encryption from preventing law enforcement from accessing the contents of devices owned by mass shooters…

However, a Reuters report…revealed that the FBI did not ask Apple for assistance during a critical 48-hour window, in which Kelley’s fingerprint could have still unlocked an iPhone equipped with Touch ID. (The model of Kelley’s iPhone remains unknown, as does whether he enabled Touch ID.) An Apple spokesperson…confirms it did contact the FBI with an offer of assistance upon learning of Kelley’s locked iPhone on Tuesday…

❝ In other words, the FBI appears to be using this situation as another opportunity to paint the iPhone as antagonist to law enforcement procedures, in an apparent effort to drum up support for weakening tech industry encryption

Please, please, don’t delude yourselves into accepting lies from the Feds about clean hands and principled investigations. I was one of a thousand or so Americans who won a class action suit against these creeps for illegal wiretaps, unconstitutional snooping.

They eavesdropped on everyone from civil rights activists to conservative creeps like Joe Lieberman without the least concern for law or jurisprudence. Do people think their lack of principles has been upgraded because they were caught at corrupt practices?