The Media-Like-Sensibility Edition Thursday, October 25, 2018

Apple’s Radical Approach To News: Humans Over Machines, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

Apple has waded into the messy world of news with a service that is read regularly by roughly 90 million people. But while Google, Facebook and Twitter have come under intense scrutiny for their disproportionate — and sometimes harmful — influence over the spread of information, Apple has so far avoided controversy. One big reason is that while its Silicon Valley peers rely on machines and algorithms to pick headlines, Apple uses humans like Ms. Kern.

The former journalist has quietly become one of the most powerful figures in English-language media. The stories she and her deputies select for Apple News regularly receive more than a million visits each.

Their work has complicated the debate about whether Silicon Valley giants are media or technology companies. Google, Facebook and Twitter have long insisted they are tech entities and not arbiters of the truth. The chief executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and others have bet heavily on artificial intelligence to help them sort through false news and fact-based information. Yet Apple has unabashedly gone the other direction with its human-led approach, showing that a more media-like sensibility may be able to coexist within a technology company.

Apple In China

Ex-Facebook Security Chief Calls Out Tim Cook And Apple's Practices In China, by Michelle Castillo, CNBC

"We don't want the media to create an incentive structure that ignores treating Chinese citizens as less-deserving of privacy protections because a CEO is willing to bad-mouth the business model of their primary competitor, who uses advertising to subsidize cheaper devices," Stamos said in a series of tweets responding to recent comments made by Apple CEO Tim Cook.


Though Stamos said he agreed with "almost everything" Cook said, in a series of tweets he called out Apple for blocking the ability to download VPN and encrypted messaging apps in China, which could provide ways to connect to the internet and send messages privately and without surveillance.

How China Complicates Apple’s Chest-thumping About Privacy, by Casey Newton, The Verge

Google and Facebook have faced blistering criticism lately for their attempts to work in China. That Apple has operated for so long in the country with so little discussion of the potential for government access to user data seems, in light of Cook’s speech, all the more conspicuous.

Partial Extraction

Apple Just Killed The 'GrayKey' iPhone Passcode Hack, by Thomas Brewster, Forbes

Multiple sources familiar with the GrayKey tech tell Forbes the device can no longer break the passcodes of any iPhone running iOS 12 or above. On those devices, GrayKey can only do what's called a "partial extraction," sources from the forensic community said. That means police using the tool can only draw out unencrypted files and some metadata, such as file sizes and folder structures.


Though it's clear Apple has locked GrayShift out, no one actually knows just how the iPhone maker has done it. Vladimir Katalov, chief of forensic tech provider Elcomsoft, bas repeatedly uncovered weaknesses in Apple technology. But he was stumped too.


Select Apple Stores Offering October 30th Special Event Livestreams, Sign Up Today, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

If you’d like to watch next week’s Apple Special Event on a bit larger display with a group of friends, you might be in luck. Select Apple stores around the world will be live streaming the keynote, and you can sign up to attend.

A Few Thoughts On The New iPhone XS Camera, by Erin Brooks, The Sweet Setup

The over-blur that sometimes happens now as a result of the noise reduction can be a bit much, but I just add a little grain if I feel it goes overboard, and it’s nice that dark shadows aren’t as noisy because of it. I also like that Apple is trying to improve auto exposure, even if it misses the mark sometimes. I like that it’s in an effort to help everyone get properly-exposed shots. I like that portrait mode keeps getting better and that I can now emulate the look of a prime lens with a device that fits in my pocket. And that is why, deep down, more than for my own sentimental reasons, I will always love the iPhone: It’s a powerful, accessable, and unintimidating camera.

Apple Shows Off iPhone XS Portrait Mode Shots Using New Depth Control Feature, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign has grown tremendously over the years with everyday users tweeting pictures or videos on Twitter and Instagram. Today, Apple is sharing a compilation of photos and videos shot on iPhone XS using the new Depth Control.

Why Shortcuts Matter For Accessibility, by Steven Aquino, MacStories

As is the case with stuff like Markdown and Apple Pay, technologies not built expressly for accessibility’s sake, the Shortcuts app is so well considered and approachable that anyone can use it, regardless of ability. There are no complicated settings or special modes; as Apple designed it, it just works as they intended it.

That’s what makes Shortcuts’ star shine brighter. Yes, Apple is pitching it for speed and convenience. Yes, shortcuts can be as pedestrian or as nerdy as you want them to be. Above all, however, the Shortcuts app is accessible. It's an app that's reachable to the widest possible audience, turning its utilitarianism into something far greater.

Nuance Discontinues Dragon Speech Recognition Software For Mac, by Kirk McElhearn, Kirkville

Nuance has announced that the company has discontinued Dragon Professional Individual for Mac. This was the most recent name of the company’s speech recognition software for macOS.


New Safari Beta Allows Websites To Adapt Their Theme To Complement macOS Mojave In Dark Mode, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The new Safari beta includes support for the ‘prefers-color-scheme’ CSS media query. This will allow websites to adapt automatically to changes in system appearance.


A New ‘Smart Firewall’ iPhone App Promises To Put Your Privacy Before Profits, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

At its heart, the Guardian Mobile Firewall — currently in a closed beta — funnels all of an iPhone or iPad’s internet traffic through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) tunnel to Guardian’s servers, outsourcing all of the filtering and enforcement to the cloud to help reduce performance issues on the device’s battery. It means the Guardian app can near-instantly spot if another app is secretly sending a device’s tracking data to a tracking firm, warning the user or giving the option to stop it in its tracks. The aim isn’t to prevent a potentially dodgy app from working properly, but to give users’ awareness and choice over what data leaves their device.

Strafach described the app as “like a junk email filter for your web traffic,” and you can see from of the app’s dedicated tabs what data gets blocked and why. A future version plans to allow users to modify or block their precise geolocation from being sent to certain servers. Strafach said the app will later tell a user how many times an app accesses device data, like their contact lists.

Tim Cook: Being Gay Is God's Greatest Gift To Me, by David Goldman, CNN

"I was public because I started to receive stories from kids who read online that I was gay," he told Amanpour.

He said the emails and letters came from children who said they had been ostracized, bullied or abused because of their sexual orientation.

Cook said he is a private person but ultimately decided that he was being "selfish" by keeping quiet about his identity when he could help people by coming out.