The Assumptions-and-Behavior Edition Monday, February 27, 2023

How A Thief With Your iPhone Passcode Can Ruin Your Digital Life, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

While the chance of any given person falling prey to this sort of attack is vanishingly small, and I’m not actually worried for myself, the Wall Street Journal reporting led me to think about and clean up my broader security assumptions and behavior. I appreciated the nudge, and I’d encourage you to reflect on your security situation as well.

Subscription Fatigue And Related Musings, by Riccardo Mori

The changes I’d love to see sound perhaps too idealistic, but I think it could be great if we could go back to an App Store that is more focused on purchases rather than subscriptions. One-time purchases at more realistic prices, with an easy way of offering paid updates for subsequent major app releases, and more meaningful, less nickel-and-diming in-app purchases. A fairer system focused on app purchases would also be less exploitable than a subscription system, less prone to abuses and fraud. I also wish Apple did better at detecting scam apps and subscription schemes, and made the lives of legitimate developers easier after years of jumping through stupid hoops and being subjected to a volatile and seemingly random app review process.

How Reuters Used AirTags To Reveal Dow's False Recycling Promises, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

We’ve seen countless clever use cases of Apple’s AirTag item trackers, but nothing quite like this one. As part of an investigative report into recycling practices of Dow Inc and the Singapore government, a Reuters reporter planted hidden AirTags into 11 pairs of donated shoes.

“Dow said it was recycling our shoes. We found them at an Indonesian flea market,” the headline of the resulting story reads.


Apple’s Secret ‘XDG’ Team Is Working On More Than Just A Glucose Monitor, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The Exploratory Design Group operates as a startup within Apple and is made up of only a few hundred people, mostly engineers and academic types. That’s a far cry from the many hundreds of people in the Special Projects Group, which is focused on Apple’s self-driving car, or the more than a thousand engineers in Apple’s Technology Development Group, the team building the mixed-reality headset.

Beyond the glucose work, XDG is working on next-generation display technology, artificial intelligence and features for AR/VR headsets that help people with eye diseases. The team originally came together under Athas to work on low-power processor technologies and next-generation batteries for smartphones, efforts that continue.

Apple's Machines Are Learning More Intelligently As Bard And Bing, by Dan Moren, Macworld

One reason that Apple’s AI work is sometimes overlooked is simply one of terminology. While the company doesn’t often talk about “artificial intelligence,” it does spend a lot of time discussing “machine learning” (ML), which is a critical underpinning to a lot of Apple’s latest technologies.

Though machine learning may technically only be a subset of artificial intelligence (and there’s some disagreement on even that) the two terms are often used interchangeably, at least on a colloquial basis. The large language models behind tools like ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and Microsoft’s new Bing chatbot take advantage of machine learning technologies, as do image generators like DALL-E and Stable Diffusion. Broadly speaking these are all technologies that involve algorithms that use data to learn and improve.

NYC Thieves Stealing Apple Headphones Off Victims' Heads, by AP

The thefts started on Jan. 28 and have typically involved four people on two mopeds riding up to victims from behind, snatching their Apple AirPods Max headphones and then speeding off. The noise-canceling devices currently retail for $549 a piece.

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I have no desire to chat with Siri.


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