Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Removed the Zoom Vulnerability



Good news for Mac users who had Zoom installed on their computers! TechCrunch reported that Apple has released a silent update for Mac users that removes a vulnerable component in Zoom. The update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically.

Apple often pushes silent signature updates to Macs to thwart known malware – similar to an anti-malware service – but it’s rare for Apple to take action publicly against a known or popular app. The company said it pushed the update to protect users from the risks posed by the exposed web server.

TechCrunch quoted Zoom spokesperson Priscilla McCathy who said (in part): “We are happy to have worked with Apple on testing this update.”

Apple’s update comes after Zoom released a fix for the vulnerability that enabled nefarious people to put a link into a website that would automatically cause a Zoom user to connect to Zoom with their video running.

The patch does two things. It removes the local web server entirely, once the Zoom client has been updated. In other words, it completely removes the local web sever from a Mac. The patch also allows users to manually uninstall Zoom.

Mac users may see a pop-up in Zoom that tells them to update their Zoom client. There is a link on the Zoom blog where you can download the update. Or, you can check for updates by opening your Zoom app window.


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+.


Apple Cracks Down on Apps that Limit Screen Time



The New York Times reported that Apple has removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen-time and parental-control apps, and also clamped down on a number of lesser-known apps that had the same functions. The analysis was done by The New York Times and an app-data firm called Sensor Tower.

In some cases, Apple forced companies to remove features that allowed parents to control their children’s devices or that blocked children’s access to certain apps and adult content. In other cases, it simply pulled the apps from its App Store.

According to the New York Times, Apple started removing or restricting apps that allow people to limit their own, or their children’s screen-time shortly after Apple made its own screen-time app. In addition, in order to use Apple’s screen-time app to limit children’s screen time, the entire family must have iPhones. Obviously, this would be very beneficial to Apple.

The New York times reported a statement from Apple:

“We treat all apps the same, including those that compete with our own services,” said Tammy Levine, an Apple spokeswoman. “Our incentive is to have a vibrant app ecosystem that provides consumers access to as many quality apps as possible.” She said Apple removed or required changes to the apps because they could gain too much information from users’ devices. She added that the timing of Apple’s moves was not related to its debut of similar tools.

There are two groups of people who are directly affected by this. One is the screen-time app makers, who are losing business due to their app being removed from the App Store. The other are some parents who were using one of those apps to control their children’s phones – and who cannot do that anymore with the app they were originally using. Apple’s screen-time app reportedly provides the option “Ignore Limit” when a user hits the app’s time limit.

One thing is clear. Apple has a whole lot of control over what apps are allowed in the App Store, and can and does remove apps that it feels should not be there. On the one hand, it makes sense for Apple to remove apps that have malware or otherwise are acting maliciously.

On the other hand, this situation shows that removal of apps has a negative impact on the companies who create them and the people who use them. I think this situation is going to make some people want Apple to be investigated for the purpose of determining whether or not some regulation is needed.


Elizabeth Warren Wants to Break Up Tech Industry Giants



Senator Elizabeth Warren said that if she is elected president in 2020, her administration will break up the giants of the tech industry. This was announced at SXSW in Austin, and in a detailed post on Medium. In that post, Senator Warren mentioned Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

Senator Warren’s plan would classify any company that runs a marketplace and makes more than $25 billion a year in revenue as a “platform utility”, and will prohibit those companies from using those platforms to selling their own products.

The Verge interviewed Senator Warren. Her plan includes Apple – which was not mentioned in the Medium post. Senator Warren wants to break Apple apart from their App Store. As far as I can tell, the plan also calls for Google to split from Google Play. Personally, I’d like to see more specific information from Senator Warren about how that change will affect how apps are distributed.

In part of the interview, Senator Warren said:

The problem is that’s not competition. That’s just using market dominance, not because they had a better product or because they were somehow more customer-friendly or in a better place. It’s just using market dominance. So, my principle is exactly the same: what was applied to the railroad companies more than a hundred years ago, we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way.

In short, the plan would prevent Amazon from selling Amazon Basics products on the Amazon retail store. It would stop Google from promoting its own products in Google Search. And, it would require Facebook to split apart from Instagram and Whatsapp. It is a strong push for antitrust enforcement of an industry that has been untouched by those laws.

Personally, I would like to see Facebook and Instagram split apart. I’m not a fan of Facebook (and stopped using it years ago). Instagram brings me joy, but I am conflicted about continuing to use it because it belongs to Facebook. I’d also like to see YouTube separated from Google.