The Slight-Bend Edition Thursday, December 20, 2018

Apple Confirms Some iPad Pros Ship Slightly Bent, But Says It’s Normal, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Apple has confirmed to The Verge that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis. But according to the company, this is a side effect of the device’s manufacturing process and shouldn’t worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad’s performance in any practical way. Apple does not consider it to be a defect.

The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro’s metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple. Both sizes of the new iPad Pro can exhibit it.

No, Apple, A Slightly Bent iPad Pro Straight Out Of The Box Isn't Acceptable, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

A slightly bent chassis may not impede the new iPad Pro from working right, but Apple implying that this happening in any quantity to end-users is okay in any way defies reason.

Granting Broad Powers

As Facebook Raised A Privacy Wall, It Carved An Opening For Tech Giants, by Gabriel J.X. Dance, New York Times

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.


The social network allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

5 Ways Facebook Shared Your Data, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, New York Times

As recently as this summer, Yahoo was able to view a stream of posts from these people’s friends, and it is unclear what the company did with that information. A Yahoo spokesman said the company did not use the information for advertising. [...] A Netflix spokesman said the company was not aware it had been granted such broad powers and had used the access only for messages sent by the recommendation feature.

How Much Trust Can Facebook Afford To Lose?, by Evan Osnos, New Yorker

In a response to the Times story, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, conceded that “we’ve needed tighter management” of data sharing but stood by the company’s claim that “none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission.” After two years of declining public confidence, that’s an astonishingly obtuse thing to say. Users did have to check a box to integrate Facebook and Spotify. But does Facebook really believe that users understood that it would give Spotify the right to read private messages? On Twitter, Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrote, “Opening someone else’s mail is a federal crime. Why is @Facebook allowed to let Netflix and Spotify open your private messages? Mark Zuckerberg might think of this as just “data”, but this is people’s private lives. We need a law to protect Americans’ sensitive information.”


Apple Confirms iOS 12.1.2 Addresses Qualcomm Patents, Introduces New Force Closing App Animation In China, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In China, as planned, iOS 12.1.2 also implements minor changes to address two Qualcomm patents that led to a Chinese court issuing a preliminary injunction on the iPhone 6s through iPhone X last week, according to Apple's release notes in Chinese.

The Big Online Dating Rebrand, by Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times

It’s as if the apps have realized we’ve become disenchanted with their ways, and now they’re making an effort to treat us right. They want to gain our trust, so we’ll settle down with them for the long haul.

After all, it’s been more than half a decade since they were invented, and if you’ve been single in the last five years, chances are you’ve used one. In its annual survey of 5,000 Americans, Match Group, the dating conglomerate that owns Tinder and OkCupid, found that singles met first dates on the internet more than through any other venue, and that 62 percent of millennials surveyed had used a dating app.

Dating via phone app was once novel and consequently, exciting. Now, it’s just dating.

DayOne Is The Last Diary You'll Ever Need, by Chris Taylor, Mashable

So it's a little surprising, a couple of years later, to find that I've digitized the heck out of all those diaries and put them into a journaling app called DayOne. Why? Because DayOne makes it seductively easy to write secure, backed-up entries from most any device — Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phone — and also makes it easy to insert any kind of legacy stuff (including photos and PDFs) into entries for any date in the past.


Apple Changes App Store Rules To Allow Users To Gift In-App Purchases To Friends And Family, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today made a tweak to its App Store Review Guidelines, allowing developers to implement a new feature that will let iOS users purchase in-app content as a gift.


iPhone Hysteria, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

While the iPhone remains the most effective tool for bringing new users into the Apple ecosystem, something that will continue even if unit sales decline in any given year, the iPhone is now becoming a stepping stone in getting Apple’s wearables platform off the ground. The Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to set up. It won’t be surprising if Apple’s upcoming smart glasses require an iPhone to set up. It’s not that the iPhone is the hub and wearable devices are the spokes of an Apple "wheel.” Instead, the iPhone is being used to promote more personal devices that will one day surpass the iPhone in terms of utility and value.

The Coming Commodification Of Life At Home, by Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

Over the past several years, the American home has seen a proliferation of “smart,” or internet-connected, devices and appliances. There are, of course, smart speakers (which roughly a quarter of American homes have) and smart thermostats, as well as smart thermometers, smart mattress covers, smart coffee makers, smart doorbells, and even, yes, a smart toaster. After Amazon recently announced the release of a slew of products compatible with its Alexa voice assistant, including a smart microwave and a smart wall clock, an executive for the company said he could imagine “a future with thousands of devices like this.”

These thousands of devices, or even just hundreds or tens, would capture an unprecedented amount of data about domestic life. They present a possible future in which the experience of doing stuff at home converges with the experience of being online, in which a company can catalog people’s daily habits and present them with more of what it thinks they’ll like—the transformation of the home into just another tech platform.

We've Got The Screen Time Debate All Wrong. Let's Fix It, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

The operative word there is "starting." Because that granularity exists not only between apps, but within them: The time someone spends actively watching YouTube videos from Khan Academy is different from the time they spend consuming passively from the platform's algorithmically generated nexus of conspiracy theories or disturbing kids' videos. That's a subtlety researchers are only just beginning to explore, but Odgers, Dowling, and Przybyski all agree that studying these intra-application differences will be essential to understanding not only the full scope of screen time's impact, but when and whether our relationships with our devices warrant actual concern.