The Faster-Distribution Edition Sunday, December 2, 2018

iTunes Doesn't Encrypt Downloads—on Purpose, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Though it's initially surprising that a company as purportedly pro-privacy as Apple might not offer total HTTPS adoption on its backend, iOS researcher Will Strafach says he thinks the setup serves a specific purpose. By sending the downloads themselves over plaintext HTTP instead of an encrypted connection, system administrators, especially in large enterprise environments, can create a sort of way station to cache large apps and files on their local network for faster distribution. That means they won't eat up bandwidth if the app, update, or other file is being downloaded over and over again onto numerous devices. If the connection were encrypted between Apple's servers and the devices, that stopover wouldn't be possible.

"It seems non-standard and odd at first, but I don't think there is a security threat here since integrity checks still occur," Strafach says. He agrees that there are always potential downsides to sending data unencrypted, but notes that an attacker who wants to track what a target is downloading might still be able to do it even with TLS encryption, based on an app's size.

Two Simple Tricks To Make Your iPhone Battery Last All Day, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

The first one the simplest one, but also the most effective, and that is to switch on Low Power Mode.

As the name suggests, activating this setting puts your device into low power mode. And it really does work, giving you about three hours of extra battery life. If you are worried about your battery not making it through the day, this is the setting to activate.

Terrible iPhone Battery Life? Time Is Running Out FAST To Take Advantage Of Apple’s Discount Battery Replacement, by Aaron Brown, T3

Apple's discounted battery replacement programme ends on December 31, 2018. The scheme was introduced in December last year following a backlash over the revelation that Apple intentionally slows down the performance of older iPhone models in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns when the chipset draws too much power from an ageing battery cell.

Voice Messaging – Conversational Gain Or Pain?, by Chris Stokel-Walker, The Guardian

Trawl through social media or simply have the misfortune to be friends with an early adopter of tech trends and you’ll see that the next big form of communication is upon us. It isn’t a brand new app or some strange semaphore. In some ways, it’s a throwback to the 1980s era of answering machines. “Voice messaging” – sending recorded voice messages to recipients using apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram – is having a moment. Unlike with voicemail, there’s no opportunity for the recipient to pick up and chat, and you can mix voice messages in with regular chat messages. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of encountering them, here’s what you need to know.

A Map That Tracks Everything, by Shannon Mattern, The Atlantic

Crypto-cartographers hope to use it for spatial verification—confirming that things are where they say they are, when they claim to be there. How might this be useful? Well, you could know precisely when an Amazon delivery drone drops a package on your doorstep, at which point the charge would post to your account. No more unscrupulous delivery drivers, and no more contested charges for packages lost in transit. Or when opening a new bank account, you could virtually confirm your permanent address by physically being there during a particular verification period, rather than providing copies of your utility bills. You could also submit a photo of your flooded basement or smashed windshield to the insurance company, supplementing your claim with time- and location-verified documentation. Or, as you pass by your local family-owned coffee shop, the owner could “airdrop” some Bitcoin coupons to your phone, and you could stop by to cash in before the offer expires a half hour later.

These examples are certainly appealing. But the physical world might not be as easy to map as crypto-cartographers believe.

Bottom of the Page

If I want a pair of AirPods, should I wait for the new model to arrive in stores, given that all the rumors seem to point to a good chance that Apple is releasing a new version soon? After all, I don't want to be stuck with the current and older model, which is full of regrets?

Or should I just not wait and just buy a pair and start enjoying them now, because chances are the new versions will be released at a higher price, and I will then purchase the current and older model anyway?

Decisions, decisions, decision.

(Thank goodness I don't actually want or need to buy AirPods.)



Thanks for reading.