The Statistical-Techniques Edition Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What Is Differential Privacy?, by Matthew Green

To make a long story short, it sounds like Apple is going to be collecting a lot more data from your phone. They're mainly doing this to make their services better, not to collect individual users' usage habits. To guarantee this, Apple intends to apply sophisticated statistical techniques to ensure that this aggregate data -- the statistical functions it computes over all your information -- don't leak your individual contributions. In principle this sounds pretty good. But of course, the devil is always in the details.

While we don't have those details, this seems like a good time to at least talk a bit about what Differential Privacy is, how it can be achieved, and what it could mean for Apple -- and for your iPhone.

Apple's Brain Trust -- Iovine, Reznor, Cue And Kondrk -- On Streaming's New World Order And Why 'We All Should Be' Worried, by Shirley Halperin, Billboard

The next priorities for the platform, according to demos provided at the conference, are an increased emphasis on the service's popular curated playlists, more intuitive discovery, and video. Apple has hired in the “hundreds,” according to Cue, to see this vision through. Of course, plenty of hurdles remain, not the least of which is appeasing an anxious music industry as it watches revenues from downloads tumble.

To hear the Apple Music brain trust tell it, foremost on their collective mind is the artist, who, they point out, is seeing full rates from their paid service. Still, Reznor notes, he fears for musicians' future.

Coming Soon

How Siri Works In iOS 10 For Third-party Apps: Rich Integration With Six Kinds Of Application, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The way Siri works in iOS 10 separates developers from the core problems of voice. Apple handles the voice recognition and interpretation of queries. Siri determines user intent and decides if a particular voice query should be handled by itself or shuttled off to a third party app. This provides a consistent voice dictation interface for users as well as a strong privacy policy; Apple is always the gatekeeper of what you say.

The information the third-party app receives is limited to just the data it needs to actually do what the user wants. Siri will extract the relevant components from a query and handle just those bits (as a structured object) to the application. The app then uses various SiriKit APIs to build a response which is then displayed onscreen.

macOS Sierra Beefs Up Gatekeeper Protection With Two Changes, One Visible, One Not, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Although unsigned apps will still appear to be stored in the Applications folder, macOS 10.12 actually stores them in a randomized location on your drive. This prevents repackaging attacks, where one app pretends to be another one, because the rogue app won’t be able to access the resources belonging to the real one.

Inside iOS 10: Apple Maps Will Remember Where You Parked Your Car, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

Using Apple Maps for directions in the upcoming iOS 10, a user's iPhone will remember a vehicle's location at the end of of a trip. This is done automatically for a trip that does not end at the user's home address.

Inside iOS 10: Mail & Notes Switch To Triple-pane Interfaces On 12.9-inch iPad Pro, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

In Mail, the 12.9-inch Pro will show top-level mailboxes, their contents, and selected message bodies all at the same time. On smaller iPads, users can see either the top-level view or mailbox contents, but not both.

How 'Deleting' Built-in Apple Apps Works In iOS 10, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

The difference is, when you delete a built-in app, you don't really delete it. You do remove the icon from the Home screen, the user data is flushed, and the hooks into the system for things like default links and Siri handling are remove. But, it doesn't delete the actual app binary.


Sling Brings Its Cable-free Live Television To The Apple TV, by Joseph Keller, iMore

The service allows people to watch live TV on several channels over the Internet, without the need for a cable subscription.


The Abilities And Limitations Of SiriKit, Siri’s Olive Branch To Other Apps, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Based on the developer documentation that Apple has published so far, here are the kinds of things that third-party apps are going to be able to do with Siri in iOS 10 and what developers have to do behind the scenes to make it work.

Apple Releases New App Store Review Guidelines, Doesn’t Yet Clarify Rules Around Subscriptions, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Notably, too, Apple has consolidated the iOS and Mac App Store guidelines into a single document.

This latter change represents an overall strategy of treating Apple’s platforms – iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS – as being under the same umbrella, instead of having so many unique peculiarities that they require separate documentation. It also makes sense to combine the previous Mac App Store Guidelines with the App Store Guidelines as there was a lot of overlap among the rules.

Apple Will Require HTTPS Connections For iOS Apps By The End Of 2016, by Kate Conger, TechCrunch

App Transport Security, or ATS, is a feature that Apple debuted in iOS 9. When ATS is enabled, it forces an app to connect to web services over an HTTPS connection rather than HTTP, which keeps user data secure while in transit by encrypting it.


Resources Found In macOS Sierra Hint At Upcoming OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID Support, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

On Apple’s API differences webpage, you can see several new resources that hint at potential features that could be coming with future Macs, including that OLED touch bar and Touch ID support.

The Services Versus Privacy Question, by David Sparks, MacSparky

I don’t think [Apple's] solution will match what Google is doing right now but as microprocessors continue to march forward, I think doing these tasks “on the silicon” is a real option. Right now all we have is words and we’ll need to see if Apple can actually cash the check they wrote yesterday morning but if they do, I’d be satisfied.

Bottom of the Page

Happy coding, and thanks for reading.