Archive for Apple

Tim Cook Threatened To Pull Uber App After Uber Gets Caught Breaking Apple’s Rules

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 24, 2017 by itnerd

I’ve said for a very long time that Uber is not a company that should be respected and that people should pay to use. After all, this is a business that breaks the rules and asks for forgiveness later, which is not how a business should be run. Case in point is this report from the New York Times that details that the Uber app for iOS was secretly fingerprinting iPhones that used it so that they could identify individual users. The problem with that is that doing so violates Apple’s privacy policy. Uber went as far as to “geofence” the Apple Campus to hide this behavior:

Mr. Kalanick told his engineers to “geofence” Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a way to digitally identify people reviewing Uber’s software in a specific location. Uber would then obfuscate its code from people within that geofenced area, essentially drawing a digital lasso around those it wanted to keep in the dark. Apple employees at its headquarters were unable to see Uber’s fingerprinting.

The thing is, that didn’t work. And when Apple CEO Tim Cook found out about this, he summoned Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to 1 Infinite Loop to demand that Uber remove this behavior from their app, or the app would be pulled from the app store:

But Apple was onto the deception, and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. “So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,” Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store.

For Mr. Kalanick, the moment was fraught with tension. If Uber’s app was yanked from the App Store, it would lose access to millions of iPhone customers — essentially destroying the ride-hailing company’s business. So Mr. Kalanick acceded.

This is precisely why Uber as a company should cease to exist. It’s a dubious company with clearly dubious business practices. Uber is very lucky that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple, because if Steve Jobs were still running the show, there would be a crater where Uber’s headquarters is located. Ok, that’s perhaps over the top. But the app would have been pulled from the app store without a meeting and a warning to Kalanick first. And I guarantee that the Uber app wold never have been seen on an iOS device again.

I have a message to Uber, I’d seriously consider altering your behavior because sooner or later someone is going to really drop the hammer on your heads.

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Apple Offers Up iWork, GarageBand & iMovie Apps For Free

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2017 by itnerd

Apple yesterday updated several of its Mac and iOS apps, making them available for all Mac and iOS users for free. So in short, all Mac and iOS users can get the following apps from the App Store for free:

  • iMovie
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Pages
  • GarageBand

Now let me clarify that free part. Previously, Apple made these apps free to those who bought new hardware back in late 2013. But if you had older hardware that was made before that date, you were out of luck and you had to pony up some cash to get these apps. Now any Mac user or iOS user can get them for free. The question is, why would Apple do this. I have some thoughts on that:

  • One thought is that Apple wasn’t getting many takers in terms of people buying these apps. Thus they decided to shift to just offering them up for free.
  • Another thought is that Apple sees itself as a services company. For example, selling space on iCloud. This might be a way to get people to further user services like iCloud as these apps integrate tightly with iCloud.
  • It might be a sign that Apple might be getting ready to deep six development on some of these apps. Specifically the iWork apps (Number, Keynote, Pages) as compared to Microsoft Office for Mac, they’re missing some really key features such as pivot tables. It may not be worth Apple’s time to continue to develop them, thus they just made the call to make them free for all.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough which one, if any of those thoughts are true. In the meantime, you might want to grab a copy of these apps seeing as they’re free and all. I will be doing that for my wife on the MacBook Pro that she uses as that falls into the category where she can get these apps for free.

Apple FINALLY Spec Bumps The Mac Pro To Stop Negative Press

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2017 by itnerd

This morning Apple did something that a lot of people thought that they would never do which is put out a new revision of the Mac Pro that has updated specs:

  • The base model Mac Pro comes with a 3.5GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs, and 16GB of RAM. The previous version came with a 4-core processor, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs and 12GB of RAM.
  • The higher-end model comes with a 3.0GHz 8-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs, and 16GB of RAM. An 8-core Mac Pro was previously only available as custom order.

On top of that there are no other hardware changes as they still come with USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 which is a bit of a fail. The fact that this spec bump took place might have something to do with the fact that Apple has been taking a lot of heat for not upgrading the Mac Pro in over three years and leading to the perception that Apple doesn’t care about pro customers anymore. Something that the company is trying to dispel by sitting down with selected media outlets to outline that it still cares about pro users. Take this interview with Daring Fireball for example:

We’re not going to get into exactly what stage we’re in, just that we told the team to take the time to do something really great. To do something that can be supported for a long time with customers with updates and upgrades throughout the years. We’ll take the time it takes to do that. The current Mac Pro, as we’ve said a few times, was constrained thermally and it restricted our ability to upgrade it. And for that, we’re sorry to disappoint customers who wanted that, and we’ve asked the team to go and re-architect and design something great for the future that those Mac Pro customers who want more expandability, more upgradability in the future. It’ll meet more of those needs.

And:

We’ll talk about what’s going on and frankly be a little more transparent with some of the things we’re doing, some of the places we’re going, because our pro users desire that and we care deeply about them and we’re dedicated to communicating well with them and helping them understand what we’re doing and what we’re up to. We want to be as transparent as we can, for our pro users, and help them as they make their buying decisions. They invest so much in the Mac, we want to support them, and we care deeply about them. So that’s why we’re here.

I’d read this article in detail as it also spells out that new iMacs are coming “this year” and Apple is going to come out with a new display along with the new Mac Pro which reverses the fact that Apple exited the display business. We’ll see if Apple actually follows through on any of this. The fact that they actually said the above which is so unlike them suggests that they will. But as always the proof is when the products actually get announced and shipped to customers.

iOS Update Fixes WiFi Related Security Vulnerability

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 3, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re running iOS 10.3, you should check for updates because iOS 10.3.1 is out and it’s sole purpose is to keep you safe. You see, this update according to the security notes the update seems to only fix a problem where a remote attacker could pwn the iDevice if it was in range of it over WiFi. If there are other fixes in this update, Apple’s not telling as there’s nothing of value in the usual places to look for this info on Apple’s site.

One thing to consider is that iOS 10.3 popped up last Monday. Thus this implies that this issue was found and fixed inside of a week which is pretty impressive.

Turkish Crime Family Member Arrested

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 3, 2017 by itnerd

British cops have busted a 20 year old who is thought to have been one of the members of the so called Turkish Crime Family who was behind the threat to wipe millions of iPhones. Motherboard has the details:

“National Crime Agency officers arrested a 20 year-old male and searched an address in London, N10 on Tuesday 28 March in relation to suspected Computer Misuse Act and extortion offences,” an NCA spokesperson wrote in an email after being approached by Motherboard with a copy of the warrant.

If these charges can be proven in court, this 20 year old is facing a lot of time in the big house. Extortion convictions in the UK carry double digit years in jail. Thus he might be prepared to spill the beans about his co-conspirators to avoid having someone named “Bubba” becoming his bunkmate.

PSA: Today Is The Last Day To Get Discounted USB-C Accessories From Apple If You’re Living The #DongleLife

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2017 by itnerd

Since early November when the costs of USB-C accessories sparked outrage online, Apple has been discounting all of its USB-C adapters and accessories, including the 4K and 5K LG UltraFine displays. This was being done to allegedly ease the transition from USB-A to USB-C for new MacBook Pro owners. The thing is that after an extension, those discounts expire today. Which means I guess that Apple feels that from tomorrow onward, there’s no longer a need to ease people into the world of USB-C, or they just want to recoup the cash that they lost by offering these discounts. Either reason is plausible. Thus, if you are living the dongle life and you need to grab some USB-C accessories, head to your local Apple Store ASAP or order online today.

“Exited?” Would Like Access To Twitter Accounts…. WTF Is This?

Posted in Tips with tags on March 31, 2017 by itnerd

This morning, I had this pop up on the screen of my iPhone 7 Plus:

IMG_0076.PNG

I had no idea what this was and there was zero chance I was going to grant access to an application that I didn’t recognize as that’s a excellent way to get pwned by hackers. Thus I clicked “Don’t Allow.” But that got me nowhere as no matter how many times I clicked “Don’t Allow”, the prompt came back.  Thus I was ultimately forced to reboot the iPhone to get rid of this prompt.

My concern was that I had some sort of malware lurking around my phone. So to cover myself, I did two things that I found by searching around the Internet for solutions to this problem, and a third that falls under the category of “just in case.” The first thing that I did comes via this Apple Discussion Boards post:

  1. Close Safari completely from the multitasking window by double clicking the Home button and swiping up the Safari preview pane until it disappears from the screen.
  2. Go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.
  3. Do a forced restart of the iPhone.

It made sense to do this as I was thinking that maybe I had picked up some drive by malware via browsing the web that was responsible for this. Thus this would clear it up.

The second thing that I did came from this Reddit post:

  1. Turn off all notifications for Twitter in iOS’s settings app.
  2. Completely uninstall Twitter.
  3. Sign out of iOS’s Twitter in the Settings app.
  4. Reinstall Twitter.
  5. When you open Twitter, it’ll ask for notification permission. Grant it.

Doing this makes sense as it clears the Twitter app and the data along with it and resets all the permissions too. Now the Reddit post references jailbreaking. I do not jailbreak my phones as that’s another great way to get pwned by hackers. Thus whatever this issue is, it affects non-jailbroken devices as well.

Finally, as an security precaution, I will be changing the password to my Twitter accounts. That way if I have been somehow pwned, at least I will maintain control of my Twitter account.

It still leaves me with this question. What is this “exited?” app and why does it want access to my Twitter accounts? Is this perhaps a bug related to the Twitter app that’s been around for a while (some web results on this go back to 2012), or is it something more sinister? I’d love to know the answer to that question. If you have any feedback on this, please leave a comment below. In the meantime, I will be watching my iPhone carefully to see if this comes back.