The Digital-Magic Edition Thursday, January 31, 2019

Why Won’t The New Yorker Keep You Logged In? Mystery: Solved (Kind Of), by Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab

For instance, people read New Yorker articles across a wide variety of digital devices — from desktop and mobile, in The New Yorker’s app, from links within newsletters, from links on social media. “If you’re reading a newsletter article on your phone in Gmail, it’ll open a particular browser. If you’re in the iOS default mail app, it’ll open in [Safari]. And if you’re clicking within Twitter or Facebook, they have an in-app browser,” Luo said. “You’re opening each within a specific environment, and each of those environments requires you to log in, and in some cases we just can’t manage how they maintain your login information.”

But this is probably not news to many of those complaining about staying logged in on Media Twitter. It isn’t that most people expect to log in once, on one device, and then think they should never have to log in again on any other device because they are recognized by some kind of digital magic — it’s that they don’t think they should have to keep logging in to the same app. People who subscribe to The New Yorker’s email newsletters and have a paid subscription think that if they click on a link in their email, that link should open in their New Yorker app, which they’re already logged into as a paid subscriber — and that should be possible, Luo said. “That requires some work on our app end that we’d like to get done. That’s the way the Times does it.” It’s just an item on a long to-do list that hasn’t been addressed yet. The company is constantly working on upgrades and fixes, Luo said — for instance, “if we have your email address in records from when you subscribed, it should recognize you and automatically link your subscription so that you don’t have to enter an additional piece of informatio. Little things like that smooth the process, and we’ve been at work on a lot of those little things, just sort of knocking them off one by one.”

Coming Generations of iPhones

Apple Is Planning 3-D Cameras For New iPhones In AR Push, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The rear-facing, longer-range 3-D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world. It will work up to about 15 feet from the device, the people said. That’s in contrast with the current iPhone 3-D camera system, which points toward users and operates at distances of 25 to 50 centimeters to power Apple’s Face ID facial-recognition feature.

Apple’s new system uses a laser scanner, rather than the existing dot-projection technology which doesn’t work as well over longer distances, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unreleased features. That’s just one of many new features -- including a third, more advanced camera, enhanced photo-capture tools and a more powerful chip -- that Apple plans to include in coming generations of iPhones, the people said.

Chastening From Apple

Apple Says It’s Banning Facebook’s Research App That Collects Users’ Personal Information, by Kurt Wagner, Recode

Apple’s response, via a PR rep this morning: “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

Translation: Apple won’t let Facebook distribute the app anymore — a fact that Apple likely communicated to Facebook on Tuesday evening. Apple’s statement also mentions that Facebook’s “certificates” — plural — have been revoked. That implies Facebook cannot distribute other apps to employees through this developer program right now, not just the research app.

Maybe Only Tim Cook Can Fix Facebook’s Privacy Problem, by Kevin Roose, New York Times

It’s bizarre and somewhat troubling that Apple could unilaterally punish a competitor for its privacy sins. (Imagine if McDonald’s could shut down Burger King franchises for health code violations, with little explanation and no recourse for appeal.) But it’s hard to argue with Apple’s decision here. It made rules governing what developers for Apple products were allowed to do, Facebook broke them, and it’s now paying a price.

Apple’s defense of user privacy, while certainly self-interested, is a boon to its users and a lever for change within the tech industry. And if Mr. Cook wants to take a strong stand against app developers that routinely violate users’ trust, he could start with the biggest privacy violator of all. Facebook won’t change on its own, but a chastening from Apple might be what the company needs to get its act together.

Why Facebook's Banned 'Research' App Was So Invasive, by Louise Matsakis, Wired

First, it requires users to install what is known as a “root certificate.” This lets Facebook look at much of your browsing history and other network data, even if it’s encrypted. The certificate is like a shape-shifting passport—with it, Facebook can pretend to be almost anyone it wants. If you visit the website for a clothing retailer, for instance, Facebook can use the root certificate to pretend to be the store and see the pants you were looking to buy. “You allow Facebook to pretend to be anyone they want to be on the internet—your device will trust the certificates they generate,” says David Choffnes, a professor and mobile networking researcher at Northeastern University.


Facebook’s app also established an on-demand private network connection, meaning it routed all of the participants' traffic through its own servers before passing it along to its final destination. This is essentially what all VPNs do—they disguise traffic by rerouting it, allowing you to hide things like your location, perhaps to use Gmail in China or access streaming shows not available where you live. But VPNs typically can’t see your encrypted traffic, since they don’t have the right certificate. They can still look at your unencrypted traffic, which can be an issue, but the vast majority of internet traffic today happens over encrypted HTTPS connections. But with its root certificate installed, Facebook could decrypt the browsing history or other network traffic of the people who downloaded Research, possibly even their encrypted messages.

Google Disables App That Monitored iPhone Usage In Violation Of Apple’s Rules, by Dami Lee, The Verge

A Google spokesperson told The Verge, “The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”


American Airlines Will Let You Stream Apple Music Over In-flight Wi-Fi For Free, by Noah Higgins-Dunn, CNBC

The company announced Tuesday a partnership with American Airlines that will allow Apple Music subscribers to stream songs, playlists and music videos on any domestic flight equipped with ViaSat satellite Wi-Fi for free. This makes American the first commercial airline to provide exclusive access to Apple Music through complimentary Wi-Fi.


Those who subscribe to Apple Music will be able to access the service on Apple devices equipped with the platform, including iPhones, iPads, Macs and Android phones. Those who don't have a subscription, however, could sign up for a free three-month trial once on board.

Revisiting Evernote: Checking In With The Former Note-Taking King, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Though Evernote has retained a large user base all these years later, and in fact became cash flow positive nearly two years ago, there are a lot of former users who left the service long ago and haven't looked back. Personally, while I've kept an eye on Evernote over the years, I never put its recent updates to the test – until recently, that is, when I set out to revisit the popular note-taker.

As part of checking back in on Evernote, there were three core features I wanted to focus on evaluating: Templates, Context, and Dark Mode. These are some of the major developments Evernote has touted in its last few years of work, and they make for an interesting case study on the company's future direction.

GoodReader 5 Brings Split-screen Documents To iPad, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The latest version of GoodReader enables iPad users to view two documents side-by-side. It also offers a long list of improvements to its built-in PDF viewer and methods for securing files.


How To Make Your Office More Ergonomically Correct, by Melinda Wenner Moyer, New York Times

A healthy workstation is one that allows you to work in a neutral, relaxed position. That setup “requires the least force, the least strength, the least effort,” said Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group at Cornell University, “and that means you’re putting the least amount of strain on your body.”

To get there, you will want furniture that can be adjusted to your body size and shape — basically, “the more adjustability, the better,” said Justin Young, an industrial and operations engineer at Kettering University in Michigan.


If the furniture you have does not allow you to work in a neutral position, make tweaks with what you have — create lumbar support with a pillow or pad, for instance. Then ask your employer for an upgrade.

Don't Let Your Boss Use This Word To Ask More Of You, by Monica Torres, Huffington Post

Using the language of families is a common refrain within the workplace ― some employees call their co-workers “work spouses” or “work moms” ― but using that intimate language can blur professional and personal boundaries, building up false expectations of how a company will support its employees.

Family is a personal concept that varies across cultures, but, as a general rule, your membership in a good family is not conditional upon what you do. Families and employers can both give you respect and a sense of belonging, but the love and safety found in belonging to a family are different from the satisfaction of belonging to a work team. Work teams can be temporary, and they are transactional by their foundation. Families do not fire you and swap you out.


Apple Engineer Accused Of Stealing Self-Driving Car Secrets, by Michael Bott, NBC Bay Area

Apple learned Chen recently applied for a job at a China-based autonomous vehicle company that is a direct competitor of Apple’s project, according to the complaint. A photo found on Chen’s computer, which Apple provided to the FBI, showed an assembly drawing of an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle.

Bottom of the Page

So, the upcoming Criterion Channel has the phrases "Available Anywhere" and "launch... in the U.S. and Canada" on the same marketing web page. :-)

Speaking of 'anywhere': why isn't Apple Book Store available all around the world (okay, maybe except China) yet? And why haven't we hear any rumors about a all-you-can-read Apple service yet?


Thanks for reading.