The Lost-and-Stolen Edition Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Apple Privacy Officer Says That 'Building Back Doors' To Access iPhone Data Won't Help Solve Crimes, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

"Our phones are relatively small and they get lost and stolen," Horvath said. "If we're going to be able to rely on our health data and finance data on our devices, we need to make sure that if you misplace that device, you're not losing your sensitive data."

Horvath said that Apple has a team working around the clock to respond to requests from law enforcement. But she said she doesn't support building so-called back doors into software that would allow law enforcement elevated access to private data to solve crimes like terrorism.

Apple Scans iCloud Photos To Check For Child Abuse, by James Titcomb, The Telegraph

Apple has started scanning photos uploaded from iPhones to check for child sexual abuse images, as tech companies come under pressure to do more to tackle the crime.

Jane Horvath, Apple’s chief privacy officer, revealed at a tech conference that the company automatically screens images backed up to the company’s online storage service, iCloud, to check whether they contain the illegal photos.

At CES, Apple, Facebook And Amazon Are Preaching Privacy. Don’t Believe The Hype., by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

Apple takes pains to encrypt and minimize some of our data it collects for its own services, Horvath said at the panel. It also requires apps to seek your permission before it collects your location and other highly sensitive data.

But what Horvath didn’t say is vetting the third-party iPhone apps Apple sells for their tracking behavior would be time-consuming and costly for the company, so it conveniently gets defined as beyond its responsibility. After my investigation last summer, Apple said it would stop children’s apps from using outside trackers — but why not all apps?

Apple Details 2019 App Store Stats And Recaps Other Services, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In a press release today, Apple shared App Store revenue numbers for the 2019 holiday season, which set an all-time record for single day sales on New Year’s Day.


How I Use The iPhone 11 Pro For Product Photography, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

The 11 Pro’s camera system also provides ample opportunity to shoot a specific type of photo that always required a dedicated camera in the past: product photos. I’ve been playing with the iPhone 11 Pro over the last few months to see if there’s a possibility I can leave behind my Fujifilm cameras for some product photography.

In some cases, I’m happy to report, I can use the iPhone in a pinch and nobody has noticed enough of a difference to make a comment. But it has required some extra hardware (and some extra patience) to arrive at a final result I’m happy with.

Firefox 72 Blocks Fingerprinting Scripts By Default, Rethinks Notification Pop-ups, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Mozilla made it possible to block website notifications altogether in a previous update to Firefox, but this update offers this new, ostensibly more manageable variation as well. Instead of showing these requests as a pop-up that interrupts your experience, it will now show a speech bubble in the address bar that you can use to opt-in to the notifications—similar to how some modern browsers handle other kinds of pop-up attempts.


We're Teaching Coding All Wrong, by Nathan Esquenazi, Bloomberg

When we tell prospective engineers that individual victories are the only kind worth winning, we set them up to enter the workplace as competent coders but poor collaborators. We squeeze out coders who do not see themselves in the image of lone wolf inventor. The industry cannot afford to lose out on that potential.


Why The iPad Needs To Embrace Mice And Trackpads, by Jason Snell, Macworld

First off, let’s go back to where this feature comes from: Accessibility. Providing more ways for users to use the iPad makes the iPad more usable. Every body is different. Supporting a rich iPad experience with external pointing devices could make the difference between someone being able to use an iPad and not being able to use one.

Let’s not forget, too, that accessibility reaches different people in different ways—and more of them than you might think. One of my friends uses a mouse with his iPad all the time because of his repetitive-strain injuries. In many ways, the iPad an ergonomic miracle because at its core it’s just a screen—the user decides how they want to use it. The more flexibility it can offer, the better.

Soapbox: We Need To Talk About Font Sizes In Games, by Sammy Barker, PushSquare

Considering I’ve spent roughly half my life in dark rooms staring at blisteringly bright screens, my eyesight is decent. Do you know what’s making me feel like I’m going blind, though? Video games. This isn’t a case of my peepers slowly withering away and losing their clarity – all other aspects of my life remain unaffected and unchanged. No, I blame developers who are intent on decreasing the size of their titles' fonts as each year passes by.

CES 2020: Tech Trends To Watch, by Jeff Porten, TidBITS

What makes the Trends talk interesting is not only the data presented, but also which parts of the talk are filled with more optimism than an eight-year-old riding a unicorn over a rainbow. What CES organizers and exhibitors never seem to understand is that truly revolutionary products don’t need hype. So when you hear hype at CES, it’s an indication that someone is covering for something. I enjoy this talk for its information, but also for pointing out what I’ve become skeptical of after attending CES on and off for thirty years.

Bottom of the Page

I do like Apple TV+'s Dickinson very much, and I'm so glad that it has already been renewed for a second season.

Life, and death, is very much on my mind now.


Thanks for reading.