The Commercial-Surveillance-State Edition Saturday, September 15, 2018

Forget The New iPhones: Apple’s Best Product Is Now Privacy, by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company

In 2018, no issue is more important than user privacy–or the lack of it. We’re tracked by private industry on an unprecedented scale, with major corporations having so much data about us–much of it gleaned without our knowledge–that they can tell when a teenager is pregnant (and inform the teen’s father) or even predict your future actions based on decisions you haven’t made yet. If you want to be part of this world, designed by advertisers and tech giants, you must relinquish your right to privacy. In other words, we live in a commercial surveillance state.

Well, unless you use Apple’s products.


When you pay that extra money for an Apple product, you’re not just buying better industrial design or more advanced underlying tech–you’re buying the right to keep more information about yourself to yourself. In an age when data breaches are the norm, data manipulation is a business model, and corporate surveillance of your life is at an all-time high–what better product is there than privacy?

The iPhone Xs: An Innovation Dilemma, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Apple was one of the first companies to shy away from a reliance on speeds and feeds, the bandying of ever-higher figures and specs that were the hallmark of the heady days of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. But at the event we were regaled with stats on floating point operations, processor cores, and even the amount of storage the phone could address. All impressive feats, to be sure, but perhaps a little more down in the weeds than Apple traditionally gets.

The fundamental problem with launching a device so far ahead of its time, as Apple did last year with the iPhone X, is that it makes it that much harder to top it the next time around. It’s kind of like Olympic athletes struggling to outpace their rivals—or even themselves—by shaving another fraction of a second off their time.

An Apple A Day

What Cardiologists Think About The Apple Watch’s Heart-tracking Feature, by Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post

“It’s too early to tell from a public health perspective whether the costs will outweigh the benefits,” Marcus said. There are many other factors, such as someone’s general health or age, that affect whether an irregular heartbeat needs to be treated, he said. Those must be evaluated by a physician to find the right approach for each patient.

What could help calm anxiety, he said, would be more general education about conditions such as atrial fibrillation. “Generally, physicians talk about these things among themselves,” he said. “Perhaps this movement into the consumer realm means educating the public about these issues, as well.”

The New Apple Watch Shows The Money Big Tech Sees In Health, by Zachary Tracer, Bloomberg

The business of keeping people well is a logical frontier. Health care accounts for about 18 percent of U.S. economic output and still often relies on antiquated tools like fax machines, making it an enticing opening for tech behemoths looking for new terrain to conquer.

Already, the companies are in deep. Apple is tracking vital signs. Amazon bought its way into the pharmacy business while joining with two powerful partners to remake worker health coverage. Google parent Alphabet Inc. wants to help make you live longer.


Apple Outlines Dual SIM Support On iPhone Xs, Coming In A Future Update To iOS 12, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Unlike iPad or Apple Watch, setting up an eSIM for the iPhone will require you to scan a QR code or download the carrier’s app. Apple notes that you will be able to use an eSIM as your primary SIM as well, taking away the hassle and annoyance of a SIM failure.

Apple And Firefox Tools Aim To Thwart Tracking, by Anick Jesdanun,

New protections in Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox browsers aim to prevent companies from turning "cookie" data files used to store sign-in details and preferences into broader trackers that take note of what you read, watch and research on other sites.


How The Weather Channel Made That Insane Storm Surge Animation, by Brian Barrett, Wired

At a certain point, you think you have a good grasp of what to expect from weather graphics. A color-coded map, a five-day forecast with a sassy cloud. Which might be why the Weather Channel’s 3-D, room-encompassing depiction of the Hurricane Florence storm surge took so many by surprise. It doesn’t tell, it shows, more bracingly than you’d think would be possible on a meteorological update. Here’s how they did it.

Apple Is Happy To Use Women And People Of Color As Art, Not Authority, by Jessica Conditt, Engadget

I want to praise Apple for featuring a lineup of diverse, beautiful people in its ad campaign, but that's difficult to do when the images feel like a flimsy cover for the company's inherent lack of diversity. The problem isn't the photos themselves, but the dissonance between the message they're intended to convey and the reality at this multi-billion dollar powerhouse of a company. The images scream, "Look how diverse we are!" while the truth is, Apple is mostly white and mostly dudes, just as it's always been.

This isn't an Apple-only problem. The technology industry is notoriously white-man heavy, and claims of sexist and racist company cultures abound to this day. However, Apple is the company with the tech world's attention right now. Given Apple's own demographic makeup, the images it's using to sell the new iPhone feel closer to exploitation than celebration. Apple is famous for its attention to design and appearance -- the marketing department chose these images for a reason, and it wasn't because they looked around the office and saw a lot of female and non-white workers.

Bottom of the Page

I am worried. I am worried that, next week, I will be finding out exactly how much time I've wasted playing games on my iPhone.


Any day now, we are going to get the iPod Touch update: iPod XJR, right?


Thanks for reading.