Category Archives: Apple

Apple Announced Apple Watch Series 5



Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 5. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) is available to order in 41 countries and regions and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) is available to order in 22 countries and regions. Both models will be available in stores starting on Friday, September 20, 2019.

Apple Watch Series 5 has an Always-On Retina display that never sleeps. It makes it easy for people to see the time and other information without raising or tapping the display. Apple says the watch face has been carefully optimized for the new display and to preserve battery life, the screen intelligently dims when a user’s wrist is down and returns to full brightness with a raise or a tap. The Apple Watch Series 5 offers “all-day 18-hour battery life”.

It also has a built-in compass and updated Maps app to allow users to see which way they are facing. The new Compass app shows incline, latitude, longitude and current elevation. I can see where this could be useful for people who are traveling or sightseeing.

One of the most useful features, in my opinion, is International Emergency Calling. Users with cellular models of Apple Watch Series 5 can complete international calls to emergency services, regardless of where the device was originally purchased or if the cellular plan has been activated. It works with fail detection, if enabled, to automatically place an emergency call if Apple Watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless for about a minute.

Another useful feature will come with watchOS 6, (which will be available for Apple Watch Series 3 and later on September 19, and on Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 later this fall), is a Cycle Tracker. It gives customers the ability to log important information related to their menstrual cycles, see predicted timing for their next period and fertile windows using the convenience of Apple Watch. I’m hoping Apple makes this information extremely private, because some people who menstruate could be put in danger if their data was revealed.

There is also a Noise app that helps users understand the ambient sound levels in environments such as concerts and sporting events that could negatively impact hearing. I don’t think most people fully understand how loud those events can be until they are walking out after it is over with ringing ears. Perhaps this app can help save people’s hearing by pointing out the dangerously loud noise.

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) starts at $399 (US) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) starts at $499. The Series 3 (GPS) with built-in GPS, optical heart rate sensor and water resistance starts at a new low price of $199 and Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) is $299.


Apple’s WebKit Announces Tracking Prevention Policy



Apple has published their WebKit Tracking Prevention Policy. It describes the web tracking practices that WebKit believes, as a matter of policy, should be prevented by default by web browsers. WebKit’s policy was inspired by Mozilla’s anti-tracking policy.

These practices are harmful to users because they infringe on a user’s privacy without giving users the ability to identify, understand, consent to, or control them.

WebKit’s current anti-tracking mitigations are applied universally to all websites, or based on algorithmic, on-device classification.

WebKit will do its best to prevent all covert tracking, and all cross-site tracking (even when it’s not covert). These goals apply to a several types of tracking mentioned in the policy, including: cross-site tracking, stateful tracking, covert stateful tracking, navigational tracking, fingerprinting or stateless tracking, and covert tracking (which includes covert stateful tracking, fingerprinting, or other methods that are hidden from user visibility and control).

If a particular tracking technique cannot be completely prevented without undue user harm, WebKit will limit the capability of using the technique. If even limiting the capability of a technique is not possible without undue user harm, WebKit will ask for the user’s informed consent to potential tracking.

Interestingly, WebKit considers logging in to multiple first party websites or apps using the same account to be implied consent to identifying the users as having the same identity in these multiple places. WebKit believes that such logins should require a user action and be noticeable by the users, not be invisible or hidden.

WebKit is taking policy circumvention seriously. They will treat circumvention of shipping anti-tracking measures with the same exploitation of security vulnerabilities.

There may be some unintended impact of the policy, in which certain practices are inadvertently disrupted. Some of these include:

  • Funding websites using targeted or personalized advertising
  • Measuring the effectiveness of advertising
  • “Like” buttons, federated comments, or other social widgets
  • Analytics in the scope of a single website
  • Audience measurement

WebKit is the source engine that underpins internet browsers, including Apple’s Safari browser. If I’m understanding this correctly, that means that Safari (and potentially other browsers) will have WebKit’s Tracking Prevention Policy “baked in”. I wonder if the policy will be effective enough that it will replace the use of ad blockers.


Apple is Locking iPhone Batteries at the Factory



Being able to see the health of the battery on your iPhone is really important. It helps you know when that battery needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, Apple is reportedly doing some shenanigans that will prevent iPhone users from making that assessment – if they swapped their battery with one that is not from Apple.

This news comes from iFixit, who reported: “By activating a dormant software lock on their newest iPhones, Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple can go in iPhones, and only they can install them.”

If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings >Battery, next to Battery Health. The “Service” message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced. The message still shows up when you put in a brand new battery, however. Here’s the bigger problem: our lab tests confirmed that even when you swap in a genuine Apple battery, the phone will still display the “Service” message.

In short, if you want to replace the battery on a newer iPhone, Apple wants you to take it to an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. The company doesn’t want you to change the battery yourself, and really doesn’t want you to swap it with a battery that isn’t from Apple.

The iFixit article describes this practice as a “user-hostile choice”, and rightfully so. In my opinion, the false “Service” message is designed to influence iPhone users to spend money on Apple’s batteries, instead of purchasing one from another company that is less expensive. The policy also runs over a consumer’s Right to Repair a product that they have purchased and own.


Apple Launches Recall Program for Some MacBook Pros



Apple has launched a 15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Recall Program. It is limited to MacBook Pros that were sold during a specific period of time. The reason for the recall is safety concerns about the battery overheating.

The recall does not affect any other 15-inch MacBook Pro units or other Mac notebooks.

Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. Affected units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and product eligibility is determined by the product serial number.

Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge.

To participate in this recall program, Apple asks that you check to see which 15-inch MacBook Pro you have. Confirm that your model is “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)”. If you have that model, the next thing to do is enter your computer’s serial number into the Apple website (linked above) to see if it is eligible for the program.

There are several service options for those who have computers eligible for the program. One is to find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, and another is to make an appointment at an Apple retail store. Apple recommends that you back up your data before service, and points out that service can take 1-2 weeks.

This is an important recall because of the danger of having the battery overheat. Those of you who have friends and family who are using a 15-inch MacBook Pro may want to make sure they are aware of the recall.


Apple Enhanced Privacy and Security in iOS 13



Apple announced updates and new features that are part of iOS 13. Several of them enhance user’s privacy and security. A new app location transparency feature is part of iOS 13. It sends users an notification when an app is using your location in the background, so you can decide whether to update your permission.

9To5Mac reported that the notification shows a map of the location data a specific app has tracked. The notification says the name of a specific app “has been using your location in the background. Do you want to continue allowing this?” It also shows a small explanation of what the app is using your location for.

Users get to choose what they want to do about that tracking. Options include continuing to allow a specific app background access to your location, changing permission to “only while using”, or “allow once”. The “allow once” option is considered temporary authorization, with the app prompting again the next time it is opened.

Other privacy and safety features include:

Location controls for shared photos: Now you can control whether you share your location when you share a photo on social media.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth location privacy enhancements: API changes and new controls will help prevent apps from accessing your location without you consent using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Hide My Email: Not sure you want to share your email address with a particular app? You can choose to share or hide your email address. You can also have Apple create a unique email address for you that forwards to your real address.

Respect for your privacy: Apple says it will never track or profile you when you sign in with Apple. The most information you’ll have to share with an app or website is your name and email address.

I think that most Apple users will become more aware of not only how many apps they have on their phone, but also what data those apps are tracking (or collecting). People might decide to delete apps that are too grabby. Personally, I think it is really nice that Apple cares enough about user’s privacy and security to implement these notifications and changes.


Apple Introduced the New iPod Touch



Apple introduced the new iPod touch. At a glance, it could easily be mistaken for a iPhone. The new iPod touch starts at $199 and is available to order on apple.com and the Apple Store now. It will become available in stores later this week.

Previous versions of the iPod touch focused on music. The new iPod touch has more to offer. It has an Apple-designed A10 Fusion chip which brings improved performance in games and immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences – which is a first for the iPod series.

It also has Group FaceTime, which makes it easy for people to simultaneously chat with several people. FaceTime calling requires a FaceTime-enabled device for the caller and recipient and a Wi-Fi connection.

The new iPod touch comes in a new 256GB capacity, giving plenty of space to download music for offline listening through Apple Music or the iTunes store. Apple Music subscribers can access a catalog of over 50 million songs, thousands of playlists, Beats 1 Radio and daily editorial selections from the world’s best music experts.

This fall, gamers can look forward to Apple Arcade, a game subscription service with over 100 new and exclusive games with no ads or additional purchases, with the ability to download games for offline play. It appears that at least some of these games would be playable on the new iPod touch.

I think the new iPod touch could be a good thing for parents who don’t think their child is ready for their very own smartphone, but do want a way to easily contact their child. The kid can use the new iPod touch to play games that don’t come with ads or micro transactions. Parents can have some control over how much music their child downloads.

The new iPod touch starts at $199 (US) for the 32GB model, $299 (US) for the 128GB model, and $399 (US) for the 256GB model. It comes in six finishes: space grey, white, gold, blue, pink and (PRODUCT) RED.


Apple Created Technology to Preserve Privacy and Help Ad Clicks



One of the reasons people use ad-blockers is because ads are annoying. Ads clutter up websites, autoplay, and track where you go online. They stick unwanted cookies on your computer. These are some of the many reasons why people avoid ads.

Apple has created a new technology to allow attribution of ad clicks on the web while preserving user privacy.

We propose a modern way of doing ad click attribution that doesn’t allow for cross-site tracking of users but does provide a means of measuring the effectiveness of online ads. It is built into the browser itself and runs on-device which means that the browser vendor does not get to see what ads are clicked on or when purchases are made.

Apple points out that today’s practice of ad click attribution “has no practical limit on the bits of data, which allows for full cross-site tracking of users using cookies.” Apple notes that this is privacy invasive, “and thus we are obliged to prevent such ad click attribution from happening in Safari and Webkit.”

Apple used the following principles when designing the Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution technology:

  • Users should not be uniquely identified across websites for the purposes of ad click attribution.
  • Only websites that users visit should be involved in measuring ad clicks and conversions.
  • The browser should act on behalf of the user and do its best to preserve privacy while reporting on ad click attribution.
  • The browser vendor should not learn about the user’s ad clicks or conversions.

I like that Apple is doing something to protect user’s privacy. Those who use Safari can rely on their browser to reduce the amount of data that websites suck up via ads or ad clicks. This technology will stop cross-site tracking from happening.

The Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution has three steps:

  • Store ad clicks. This is done by the page hosting the ad at the time of an ad click.
  • Match conversions against stored ad clicks. This is done on the website the ad navigated to as a result of the click. Conversions do not have to happen right after a click and do not have to happen on the specific landing page, just the same website.
  • Send out ad click attribution data. This is done by the browser after a conversion matches an ad click.

People who use Safari can try out the Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution as an experimental feature in Safari Technology Preview 82+.