The Mobile-Monitoring Edition Thursday, November 17, 2016

iPhones Secretly Send Call History To Apple, Security Firm Says, by Kim Zetter, The Intercept

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft has found that Apple’s mobile devices automatically send a user’s call history to the company’s servers if iCloud is enabled — but the data gets uploaded in many instances without user choice or notification.

“You only need to have iCloud itself enabled” for the data to be sent, said Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft.

The logs surreptitiously uploaded to Apple contain a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, complete with phone numbers, dates and times, and duration. They also include missed and bypassed calls. Elcomsoft said Apple retains the data in a user’s iCloud account for up to four months, providing a boon to law enforcement who may not be able to obtain the data either from the user’s carrier, who may retain the data for only a short period, or from the user’s device, if it’s encrypted with an unbreakable passcode.

Apple Is Researching How iPhones Can Be Used To Monitor Parkinson's Patients, by Christina Farr, Fast Company

Many patients with Parkinson's disease only see their doctor every six months or so. That's a problem as symptoms might have improved or worsened between visits, which might mean that they're on the wrong dose of medication for months at a time.

Apple is internally conducting research into whether its devices, the iPhone and Apple Watch, can be used to passively monitor data in real time on the well-being of patients suffering from the disease, three sources tell Fast Company. And it is hoping to build an evidence base to demonstrate the effectiveness of mobile monitoring.

Apple Rejection Of Indigenous App Described As Symptom Of 'Digital Colonisation', by Jacqueline Breen, ABC

An Indigenous entrepreneur based in Kakadu National Park says three years of hard work came almost to nothing when the world's biggest tech company backed out of publishing her app on its launch day.

Park ranger-turned-app developer Mikaela Jade said she could not believe what she was reading.

"I was fairly shocked," she said.

Security Matters

Troubleshooting Some Nasty Safari Malware, by Jason Snell, Macworld

“I need Apple advice,” My sister texted me last week. “I got a message that my computer is blocked due to an unexpected error. It gives me a number to call to fix it. Does that sound legit?”

No. It did not sound legit. What’s worse, the error message gave her an 800 number to call, which she did, and the person on the other end of the line offered to share her screen and tried to sell her $200 in security software.

Certs Up! Apple And Google Take Certificates More Seriously, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

I was naive and thought that a lot of the issues surrounding Web browser/server security would be resolved with some significant changes agreed to by operating system makers, non-OS browser developers, and the parties that provide verification, called certificate authorities (CAs), which took place January 1, 2016.

Oh, how young and foolish was I. But real improvements have taken place, and nearing the end of 2016, you may already have seen how browsers provide you a more descriptive—and some prescriptive—alert about problems with the certificates passed by a server to a browser to create a secure connection. In some cases, you may already have been blocked from a connection, or required to approve an exception to proceed.

current application's NSApp's terminate()

Apple Dissolves Mac Automation Management Post, Sal Soghoian To Leave Company, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

It was revealed on Wednesday that longtime Apple Product Manager of Automation Technologies Sal Soghoian, whose work is responsible for services like AppleScript and Automator, will be leaving the company in December as his post was recently eliminated.

Sal Soghoian Departs Apple, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If they had simply fired him, that’d be one thing, but the fact that they’ve eliminated his position is another. This is shitty news. I find this to be a profoundly worrisome turn of events for the future of the Mac.

Sal, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

Sal has been so awesome for so long, and he deserves a giant round of applause.

And Apple deserves us to ask, “What the hell, dude?”


Todoist Launches Smart Schedule, An AI-Based Feature To Reschedule Overdue Tasks, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Instead of reinventing the way due dates and scheduling options should be presented – something that, admittedly, Todoist already does quite well thanks to its natural language support – the company is launching Smart Schedule, a feature powered by AI that wants to help users catch up on their todo list and regain control of overdue tasks.

The goal is simple, yet promising: Todoist is betting on algorithms to understand what's most important to us and where we can find the time to get everything done without overcommitting to unrealistic deadlines.

Later Is A Simpler Replacement For Apple’s Reminders, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Later aims to offer an alternative to Apple’s sometimes cumbersome Reminders by giving you an easier, faster way to set times to be reminded about upcoming tasks, as well as a way to get alerts when you return to your Mac.

After A Bitter Election Season, Apps To Spread Good Cheer, by Kit Eaton, New York Times

There are times when the world seems a cold and unfriendly place. For some people, now is one of those moments. But there are many apps out there to help improve your mood or spread some joy around.

Command-Tab Plus Is A New Keyboard-centric App Switcher For macOS, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

With Command-Tab Plus, you use icon numbers to quickly select and switch between apps. To do that, use a shortcut to open the switch window and simply press the app number on the keyboard.


How To Create Touch Bar Screenshots On The New MacBook Pro + More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

By default, ⇧⌘6 (Shift, Command, 6) will save a screenshot of Touch Bar as a file on your desktop. Alternatively, pressing ⌃⇧⌘6 (Control, Shift, Command, 6) which may require a little finger yoga will copy what you see on Touch Bar to your clipboard for pasting in an app.

The Monkey And The Apple, by Steve Yegge

Building this game has been a lot of fun. I've learned more from doing this project than from anything I've ever done that was work-related, at any job I've had. Something about having to do a big project yourself forces you to pay attention to everything in a way that you rarely have to do at a corporation.

Microsoft Releases Preview Edition Of Visual Studio For Mac, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

The Mac edition is currently available only in a free preview build, but takes advantage of technology Microsoft acquired from Xamarin to support C# development for iOS, macOS, Windows, and Android, including access to the Xamarin Test Cloud. For server-based projects, the app supports Azure and .NET Core.


Apple Faces A Tough Chinese Consumer Agency Over iPhone Battery Fail, by Scott Cendrowski, Fortune

After numerous reports in China of iPhones shutting off unexpectedly with ample battery power remaining, Apple faces a Chinese regulator that has forced two other foreign companies into recalls since the summer. [...]

The China Consumers Association has built its reputation on fighting perceived double standards in China, and on calling out foreign companies for not respecting their Chinese consumers. Apple could be another target.

Apple To Cut Fees Video Services Will Pay For App Store, Say Sources, by Lucas Shaw and Alex Webb, Bloomberg

Some video partners have already been paying 15 percent of monthly subscription fees to Apple. The company is now extending the rate to all subscription video services as long as they are integrated with Apple’s new TV app, said the people who asked not to be identified because the changes aren’t public.