The Notable-Weak-Point Edition Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Apple Clarifies Tencent's Role In Fraudulent Website Warnings, Says No URL Data Is Shared And Checks Are Limited To Mainland China, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

According to Apple's statement, [...] Tencent is used for devices that have their region code set to mainland China. Users in the United States, the UK, and other countries do not have their website browsing checked against Tencent's safe list.

Apple’s Tencent Privacy Controversy Is More Complicated Than It Looks, by Adi Robertson, The Verge

But the news is coming as Apple faces harsh criticism for its very real concessions to the Chinese government. [...] Moreover, Apple often uses privacy and security to distinguish itself from other tech companies. So its willingness to compromise in China has been a notable weak point, readily exploited by competitors like Facebook.

Beats’ New Solo Pro Headphones Have Noise Cancellation And Apple’s H1 Chip, by Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica

Like the Studio 3 Wireless, the Solo Pro headphones use a form of adaptive noise cancellation Beats calls “Pure ANC.” This has the headphones' microphones constantly monitor the noise of your surroundings, the music currently playing, and your fit, then adjust the intensity of its active noise cancellation accordingly. You still can’t manually change the strength of the ANC, but Beats says it has fine-tuned the algorithm that drive the Pure ANC tech to better suit the Solo Pro’s on-ear design.


New to the Solo Pro is a “Transparency” mode. This isn’t anything new for modern headphones at large, but turn that on and it’ll use the Solo Pro’s external mics to blend outside noise in with your audio. This is typically useful if you need to quickly address someone—a store clerk, let’s say—or just want to be more aware of your surroundings without stopping the music.


Review: MacOS 10.15 Catalina, by Scott Gilbertson, Wired

The good news is that Catalina probably won’t slow down an old Mac, as has occasionally been my experience with past MacOS updates. You can check to make sure your Mac is compatible here (if it’s not, have a look at our guide to which MacBook you should get). I tested Catalina on a brand new MacBook Pro, a 2017 MacBook, and a 2016 iMac, and neither of the older machines felt any slower after the upgrade.

I haven’t had any significant issues running Catalina since the GM release, but some users have reported problems, mainly with third-party apps (Adobe Creative Suite especially has had some hiccups). Additionally, Catalina drops support for 32-bit apps. This probably won’t matter for most people, but if you rely on software that hasn’t or won’t be updating to 64-bit, you won’t be able to run it once you upgrade.

Apple Issues Rare Update To AirPort Utility Application On iOS, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Today’s update to the AirPort Utility application includes security improvements and general stability enhancements. Some users had reported problems with the AirPort Utility app on iOS 13, so this update likely resolves those issues.

Roku Devices Gaining Apple TV App Today, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Like the TV app on Samsung smart TV sets, the Roku version of the app offers access to all iTunes movie and TV show content, as well as all Apple TV channels options, such as HBO, CBS All-Access, and soon Apple TV+.

The Washington Post’s Inspired New TV App Is About Reading, Not Watching, by Jared Newman, Fast Company

Instead of emphasizing video, the new app is all about reading on your television. Scroll left or right, and you can cycle through a carousel of headlines with images, chosen by human editors. Select any one, and you can scroll through the article text with your remote. The app also offers adjustable fonts, text sizes, and color schemes so you can read more comfortably on the big screen. Mulder says that as streaming devices become more popular and more sophisticated, there’s room to use them as news readers.

VueScan Rescues Scanners Made Obsolete By macOS Catalina, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

“Scanners don’t wear out and people like to use their scanners for a long time, sometimes for 10 or 15 years,” said Ed Hamrick, President of Hamrick Software. “However, most vendor-supplied scanner drivers are 32-bit programs on Mac OS and don’t work on Catalina. VueScan lets people to continue using their scanners on Catalina, saving the environment and saving money.”

Netgear Expands Orbi Family With Orbi Mesh WiFi System, by Amber Neely, AppleInsider

Netgear expands its Orbi line with new dual-band Mesh WiFi system, designed to provide reliable and customizable Wi-Fi coverage to large homes.

Teen Creates App To Organize All The Family’s Caregivers After Grandmother Gets Alzheimers, by Jennifer Zolper, Good News Network

Seeing the stress it was putting on his mom to coordinate all medical appointments, medications, and be the main point of contact for all the helpers, Logan did what he could to help. He also began learning programming from online tutorials with the plan to develop an app that would coordinate all the data and calendar information.

Development of the app quickly became a family project. Logan’s dad, Eric, helped with his background in technology and programming; his twin brother Devin and sister Delaney provided input for the prototype; and Logan’s mom and aunt tested the initial version and provided crucial feedback.


Apple’s iMessage Impersonates Twitter And Facebook Bots When Scraping, by Siggi Simonarson, Medium

My best guess for why Apple decided to spoof these two popular services and pretend to be a desktop when making its requests is that some sites may use custom logic for rich previews shown on Facebook and Twitter. [...] Spoofing user agents makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of where your web traffic is coming from. It also breaks standards like robots.txt (which iMessage doesn’t seem to respect either) which allow you to control how crawlers crawl your site.

Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore, by Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic

When so many people have long or unreliable work hours, or worse, long and unreliable work hours, the effects ripple far and wide. Families pay the steepest price. Erratic hours can push parents—usually mothers—out of the labor force. A body of research suggests that children whose parents work odd or long hours are more likely to evince behavioral or cognitive problems, or be obese. Even parents who can afford nannies or extended day care are hard-pressed to provide thoughtful attention to their kids when work keeps them at their desks well past the dinner hour.


Apple’s Lower Prices, Users’ Aging Handsets Drive iPhone Demand, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Consumer interest in the iPhone 11 suggests Apple may be tackling a problem that has plagued its lower-end models in recent years: Many people want the best iPhones, but can’t afford them. The iPhone 11 bridges that gap. The only major differences between that model and the iPhone 11 Pro is a third-camera for deeper zoom and the resolution of the screen. Reviews of the iPhone 11 have been positive, with praise coming for the consistency of the camera between the regular iPhone 11 and the Pro version.

Apple's New Production Studio Shows Mastery Of The Streaming Long Game, by Tyler Hersko, Indiewire

Analysts agree that Apple is playing the long game with Apple TV+, and though the streaming service won’t launch with the breadth of content to immediately overtake the likes of Netflix or Hulu, having its own in-house studio could allow Apple to gradually bulk up its library to compete with those industry giants. And unlike services such as Netflix and WarnerMedia’s upcoming HBO Max, which recently shelled out hundreds of millions for popular legacy shows such as “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory,” respectively, Apple won’t have to ante up similarly large amounts of money to maintain the rights to its Apple TV+ projects, according to Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives.

How Silicon Valley Broke The Economy, by Adrian Chen, The Nation

If there is a larger lesson to learn from The Code, it is that technology cannot be separated from the social and political contexts in which it is created. The major currents in society shape and guide the creation of a system that appears to spring from the minds of its inventors alone. Militarism and unbridled capitalism remain among the most powerful forces in the United States, and to my mind, there is no reason to believe that a new generation of techies might resist them any more effectively than the previous ones. The question of fixing Silicon Valley is inseparable from the question of fixing the system of postwar American capitalism, of which it is perhaps the purest expression. Some believe that the problems we see are bugs that might be fixed with a patch. Others think the code is so bad at its core that a radical rewrite is the only answer. Although The Code was written for people in the first group, it offers an important lesson for those of us in the second: Silicon Valley is as much a symptom as it is a cause of our current crisis. Resisting its bad influence on society will ultimately prove meaningless if we cannot also formulate a vision of a better world—one with a more humane relationship to technology—to counteract it. And, alas, there is no app for that.

Bottom of the Page

I'm behind in my podcast listening queue, again. This really mean that I haven't alone all that much these past few days, which also mean that I haven't been recharging much.


Thanks for reading.