The App-Store-Success Edition Friday, April 8, 2022

Apple Cites Report Showing Third-party Apps Often Beat Built-in Services Amid Scrutiny, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is out with a new press release and report today in which it again touts the success of third-party apps on the App Store. The study, which was conducted by the Analysis Group and funded by Apple, concludes that “third-party apps experience broad regional and global success on the App Store.”

Apple’s App Store Stubbornness May Be iOS’s Greatest Security Vulnerability, by Rich Mogull, TidBITS

Sadly, from my perspective as a security expert, I think that within the next few years Apple will be forced to support both alternative app stores and sideloading. This will materially increase the security risk on iOS devices, especially for those less familiar with technology who don’t understand the security risks. It will start in Europe, but spread to other regions quickly, including the US. It could also have larger implications in markets like China, where the government will likely try to exert even more control over what Chinese citizens can buy—imagine a highly regulated Great Bazaar to match China’s Great Firewall.

As Apple customers, we can still protect ourselves. Personally, I plan to stick with Apple’s official App Store and will continue to recommend the same to anyone willing to listen. I fully expect Apple to default to the same level of security we have today and require users to jump through a (hopefully) painful process to authorize other app stores and sideloading. I also fear that, at least at the start, the technical updates required to support alternative app stores will create new attack surfaces and security vulnerabilities that could have broader impacts.


Apple Brings Modern Automation To iWork For Mac With Shortcuts, by José Adorno, 9to5Mac

Pages, Numbers, and Keynote now offer Shortcuts automation with version 12.0. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

This Is My Favorite Portable Battery Pack For The iPhone. Here's Why, by Tucker Bowe, Gear Patrol

The biggest advantage of the MagSafe Battery Pack is its tight integration with iOS — which means it works in ways with your iPhone that other portable batteries simply cannot. It's the only portable battery that spurs the reveal of a big "MagSafe" icon on your iPhone's display when connected. It's only the portable battery that you can check its exact power level from the Control Center, just like you can from a connected Apple Watch or AirPods. And it's smart enough to stop charging your iPhone when it reaches 90 percent to preserve its battery life.

Apple Support App Updated With Support For Business Essentials Customers With AppleCare+, by José Adorno, 9to5Mac

This update makes the app available for Business Essentials customers with Apple Care+ alongside performance enhancements.

PopChar X Review: Find The Character You Need In A Font Without Fuss, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Few pieces of Mac software can claim the history of PopChar, a utility that makes it a click and a hover to see the appearance of individual characters in fonts installed on your Mac. Released in 1987 for System 5 and revamped as PopChar X for Mac OS X 10.2 in 2002, many current users weren’t born when some of us relied on PopChar as a critical part of our daily workflow in PageMaker, QuarkXPress, and InDesign. (Or even Ready, Set, Go!)

HBO Max Is Rolling Out An Updated Apple TV App That Promises Better Stability, New Features, by Todd Spangler, Variety

Visually, the new tvOS app is not all that different from the previous iteration of HBO Max on the platform. But WarnerMedia promises that the app, rebuilt on its next-generation platform, is more stable than the prior version. In addition, it adds a number of enhancements, such as easier sign-in and sign-up; the ability to skip credits (aka “binge mode”); and a new homepage view with a scrollable “hero” banner.


Apple Drops Out Of Industry Trade Group Over 'Weak Privacy Laws', by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is dropping out of a privacy trade group that has shifted towards more “industry-friendly data privacy laws.” The news was first reported by Politico and Apple confirmed the decision through a spokesperson. The change comes ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook headlining a global privacy summit next week.

The trade group, which is dubbed the State Privacy and Security Coalition, is notoriously secretive. The trade group is run by the law firm DLA Piper and has been criticized for pushing privacy legislation that favors members of the industry rather than consumers.

Russia’s War On Google And Apple Maps, by Justin Sherman, Slate

Moscow’s information war on mobile maps underscores that companies may need better policies to deal with these kinds of events. Apple and Google, for example, appeared to have clear policies—albeit playing into a false idea of “neutrality”—around how to mark disputed territories in years past. Yet when the Putin regime launched an all-out war on Ukraine, and Western governments responded with an array of sanctions, Apple decided it could no longer display the maps as it had—raising questions about what, in general, prompts companies to suddenly undo a years-long “disputed territory” classification and whether those decisions are rooted in comprehensive policies as opposed to ad hoc calculations. Technology companies managing maps need to better develop contingency plans and policies for this kind of war and crisis in the future—and figure out in advance (to the extent possible, at least) how to best respond to promote justice and support the oppressed. Policymakers likewise should think more about maps and other online visualizations and historical records when thinking about information operations, conflicts, and Big Tech power.

Bottom of the Page

Some of us will have the luxury of sticking with Apple's App Store, and can refuse 'alternate' app stores and sideloading, which definitely will contain more malware and creepy stuff.

But then, many will not have this luxury. They may need to install work apps that may have questionable privacy or security protection. Some governments may force their citizens install apps in order to live their lives. Look at all the contact-tracing apps out there today. It doesn't take much imagination to come up with worse scenarios. Athletics may be forced to install apps when they participate in Olympics or other events. This list is unending.

Regulators who forces Apple and other platform owners to weaken their security in the name of 'competition' are, sadly, contributing to the abuse of vulnerable people.


Thanks for reading.