AirPods product page suggests AirPower may not make 2018 deadline

Peter Cao, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

While Apple made no mention of AirPower during today’s event, it looks like Apple may be launching AirPower later in 2018 than originally anticipated.

Apple has seemingly updated its website today, removing all mentions of AirPower except in one place. Looking at the AirPods product page, Apple mentions the optional wireless charging case, noting that it is currently unavailable. The charging case is placed on what appears to be the AirPower mat, along with the iPhone X.

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Adware Doctor and the Mac App Store

John Gruber on Adware Doctor:

What a bizarre story this is. Adware Doctor was a $4.99 app in the Mac App Store from a developer supposedly named Yongming Zhang. The app purported to protect your browser from adware by removing browser extensions, cookies, and caches. It was a surprisingly popular app, ranking first in the Utilities category and fourth overall among paid apps, alongside stalwarts like Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X.

Turns out, among other things, Adware Doctor was collecting your web browser history from Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and uploading them to a server in China. Whatever the intention of this was, it’s a privacy debacle, obviously. This behavior was first discovered by someone who goes by the Twitter handle Privacy 1st, and reported to Apple on August 12. Early today, security researcher Patrick Wardle published a detailed technical analysis of the appWiredTechCrunch, and other publications jumped on the story, and by 9 am PT, Apple had pulled the app from the App Store.

Contrary to some reports, Adware Doctor didn’t find some sort of hole in the sandbox that prevents apps downloaded from the Mac App Store from being able to access the entire file system. The app asked permission from the user, which is the only way utilities like this can work. Any user who believed in the stated purpose of Adware Doctor would grant this permission though. (MacOS 10.14 Mojave has additional protections for particularly sensitive files, like your browser history and email database — this shouldn’t work on Mojave even if you grant an app permission to access your home folder.)

Also, make sure you read Patrick Wardle’s post on Objective-See:

You probably trust applications in the Official Mac App Store. And why wouldn’t you?

However, it’s questionable whether these statements actually hold true, as one of the top grossing applications in the Mac App Store surreptitiously exfiltrates highly sensitive user information to a (Chinese?) developer. Though Apple was contacted a month ago, and promised to investigate, the application remains available in Mac App Store even today.

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Apple’s Biggest iPhone Launch Ever: What to Expect

Jason Snell, on what to expect with tomorrow’s iPhone event

It’s almost here. Apple’s annual iPhone event, this coming Wednesday (Sept. 12), is perhaps the biggest single event on the technology calendar. Apple always uses the event to launch other products — we’ll probably see a new Apple Watch and possibly even new iPads or Macs this year — but the center of attention is, quite rightly, Apple’s biggest product: the iPhone.


If the rumors are true, this year’s iPhone event will feature three new iPhones: an update to the iPhone X, a larger 6.5-inch version of the iPhone X, and a new 6.1-inch phone that looks a lot like an iPhone X, but with a lower-cost LCD screen.

If that’s all true, this will be the biggest iPhone introduction ever, with Apple introducing two never-before-seen models in addition to updating an existing phone. (Last year Apple rolled out three new models, but two of them — the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus — were updated versions of Apple’s previous models.)

Such a massive launch makes sense. The iPhone is roughly two-thirds of Apple’s overall business, and unlike Android phone makers, Apple is the sole purveyor of iPhones. The more models and variations, the better. If Apple is to continue growing the iPhone market, it needs to find shapes, sizes, and price points that reach people who simply won’t consider the iPhone today.

Last year’s iPhone X was a great step forward for fans of Apple’s smaller phone designs. Though it was a tiny bit larger than the iPhone 8, it offered a much larger screen and (for the first time in a smaller model) two rear-facing cameras. I know a lot of fans of the iPhone Plus line who embraced the iPhone X.

But fans of big phones can’t have their desires quenched by a single phone model. They’re always going to long for more… and the new 6.5-inch iPhone (said to be called the iPhone XS Max) promises to provide everything the iPhone X did, but with a huge screen. Fans of big phones — and the world is full of them — will be thrilled that the new, larger iPhone exists.

But given the $999 starting price tag of the iPhone X, it’s likely that the 6.5-inch OLED phone is going to be quite expensive. What about all the people in the world who like big phones, but not big price tags? This seems to be the target for the other rumored phone, a lower-cost device that still integrates the front-facing sensor block and edge-to-edge display of the iPhone X, but does it with a much cheaper LCD-based screen (and presumably other components that aren’t quite a match for the top-of-the-line products). This handset may be called the iPhone 9.

Meanwhile, there will presumably be an iPhone X successor, reportedly dubbed the iPhone XS, with an updated processor and a few other upgraded specs. This will be the least exciting phones of the three Apple introduces, but it might be the bestseller.

Keep in mind that most people in the market for an iPhone this fall aren’t people who bought the iPhone X last fall — they’re people who are still using an iPhone 6, 6S, or 7. The update to the iPhone X will be much more similar in size to what they’re used to than the two larger models.


Those are iPhone predictions. Apple is pretty consistent when it comes to a lot of its pricing decisions, but it’s also shown the ability to make huge changes, just as it did when it introduced both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X last year, and presumably as it will do this year in introducing the 6.5- and 6.1-inch iPhone models.

Even when you think you know everything about what’s coming from an Apple event, though, the company finds some way to surprise us. We’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see what it is this time around.

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Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya (Instant Pot Style)

I haven’t posted a good recipe in a while, so decided to post this one. It’s a dish I enjoy making in the Instant Pot.

What you need

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 12 ounces chorizo sausages cut into 1/4 in. thick slices
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 green onions , chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasonings
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. Turn instant pot to saute setting and add oil.
  2. Add sausage slices, cooking until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. then move them to a paper towel–lined plate.
  3. Add the chicken and cook for one minute.
  4. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the Cajun seasoning, dried basil, thyme, and rice and stir to combine.
  6. Add sausages back in.
  7. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, chicken stock, and salt.
  8. Lock the instant pot lid in place and cook on Manual High Pressure for 5 minutes.
  9. When the timer beeps, allow the pressure to naturally release 
  10. Carefully open the lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork.
  11. Stir lightly and enjoy!

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Google’s Pixel 3 event will take place on October 9th

Google has sent out invites for an October 9th event that will almost certainly be the official announcement of the thoroughly leaked Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones. There’s not much to go by from the invite in terms of clues — just a simple “I <3 NY” phrase, which subtly hints at the Pixel 3 with the numeral in the heart emojicon, but given the leaked devices already out there, Google probably doesn’t need to do much more to promote the announcement.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the third generation of the Google-branded Pixel line that was first introduced in 2016. In the past few weeks, hardware units of both devices have made their way into the world, giving us a very good idea of what to expect from the announcement. Both devices are expected to get some design tweaks, including a somewhat controversial large notch on the Pixel 3 XL and a glass back for wireless charging on both devices. Each of the Pixel devices will also have dual front-facing cameras and a single rear camera.


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It’s Time to Break up Facebook

Nilay Patel on why it’s time to break up Facebook:

Tim Wu thinks it’s time to break up Facebook. Best known for coining the phrase “net neutrality” and his book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Wu has a new book coming out in November called The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. In it, he argues compellingly for a return to aggressive antitrust enforcement in the style of Teddy Roosevelt, saying that Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other huge tech companies are a threat to democracy as they get bigger and bigger.

“We live in America, which has a strong and proud tradition of breaking up companies that are too big for inefficient reasons,” Wu told me on this week’s Vergecast. “We need to reverse this idea that it’s not an American tradition. We’ve broken up dozens of companies.”

And breaking up Facebook isn’t a new idea. Ever since Mark Zuckerberg bought Instagram and WhatsApp, the idea of undoing those deals has been present at the periphery of the conversation about regulating tech companies. Both were serious burgeoning competitors to the social network, and both acquisitions sailed through without serious government oversight, which was a mistake. Instead of facing competition, Facebook was able to swallow its rivals and consolidate the market.

“I think if you took a hard look at the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, the argument that the effects of those acquisitions have been anticompetitive would be easy to prove for a number of reasons,” says Wu. And breaking up the company wouldn’t be hard, he says.

“What would be the harm? You’ll have three competitors. It’s not ‘Oh my god, if you get rid of WhatsApp and Instagram, well then the whole world’s going to fall apart.’ It would be like ‘Okay, now you have some companies actually trying to offer you an alternative to Facebook.’”

Breaking up Facebook (and other huge tech companies like Google and Amazon) could be simple under the current law, suggests Wu. But it could also lead to a major rethinking of how antitrust law should work in a world where the giant platform companies give their products away for free, and the ability for the government to restrict corporate power seems to be diminishing by the day. And it demands that we all think seriously about the conditions that create innovation.

“I think everyone’s steering way away from the monopolies, and I think it’s hurting innovation in the tech sector,” says Wu.

They do have some points, when is a company too large? Especially in Facebook’s case where it makes up several large scale social networks under one company’s control.

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Evernote lost its CTO, CFO, CPO and HR head in the last month

Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch

Evernote, the productivity app with 225 million users that lets people take notes and organise other files from their working and non-work life, has been on a mission to reset its image as the go-to service for those seeking tools to help themselves be more efficient, years after losing its place as one of the most popular apps in the app store. But those changes have not come without their own challenges.

TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that in the last month, Evernote  lost several of its most senior executives, including its CTO Anirban Kundu, CFO Vincent Toolan, CPO Erik Wrobel and head of HR Michelle Wagner beyond the usual attrition of engineers and designers.

The departures are coming at a key time: we have also heard that Evernote is fundraising, potentially in a down-round from its most recent (but now several years-old) valuation of $1.2 billion.

The company would not comment on the funding but confirmed the staff departures. It has not provided an over-arching reason for these latest personnel changes, but notably, rather than re-hiring from outside for the vacated roles, Evernote is shifting existing, in some cases recently joined employees to take on different responsibilities.

Ranjit Prabhu, who joined the company in May 2018 as SVP of engineering, will partner with Andrew Malcolm — who had been the CMO but as of August has taken on a new title as SVP of product, growth and marketing — to work on how tech and product will fit together (he’s not taking a formal CTO title, though). Susan Stick, another recent hire (June 2018) who is the company’s general counsel — a role that appeared to be vacant for two years before she joined — is expanding her role to include people operations as well. Lastly, Francie Strong, who had been VP of communications, is taking on an expanded role as SVP of brand and communications.

This is the second major revamp of the startup’s leadership team in a little over two years. In March 2016, the company lost its founding CTO and made a number of other appointments amid a wave of departures and other big changes.

Chris O’Neill, who joined as CEO after long-time leader Phil Libin stepped away from the role, had already shuttered a number of unprofitable operations that Evernote had launched in an attempt to grow the company, including the closure of its accessories business, and several other app efforts such as some versions of Skitch and its Food app.

(Today, it has three smartphone apps, its flagship Evernote app, Skitch and Scannable for digitising business cards, receipts and other paper-based items; plus handwriting recognition app Penultimate for tablets.)
In the years since then, Evernote has been somewhat quiet, but there have been other significant changes and divestments. In June, Evernote announced that it would spin out its Chinese operations and become a minority shareholder. Yinxiang Biji, as it’s called, accounted for 10 percent of Evernote’s revenues. And some of the company’s movement has been problematic: a controversial change in the company’s privacy policy, which would have made it possible for employees in the company to read a user’s notes in the app, got quickly reassessed and altered as people publicly slammed the company.

Evernote has certainly witnessed a lot of shifts in its business over the years.

Lots of shifting around over at Evernote….

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Oculus Inventor: Magic Leap is a Tragic Heap

Oculus Inventor: Magic Leap is a Tragic Heap

Palmer Luckey:

The title of this review was carefully chosen, not glibly.  I want what is best for VR and all other technologies on the Reality–Virtuality Continuum, Magic Leap included.  Unfortunately, their current offering is a tragedy in the classical sense, even more so when you consider how their massive funding and carefully crafted hype sucked all the air out of the room in the AR space.  It is less of a functional developer kit and more of a flashy hype vehicle that almost nobody can actually use in a meaningful way, and many of their design decisions seem to be driven by that reality.  It does not deliver on almost any of the promises that allowed them to monopolize funding in the AR investment community.


I will keep this part short.  I hope Magic Leap does cool stuff in the future, but the current UI is basically an Android Wear watch menu that floats in front of you.  The menus are made of flat panels that can only be interacted with through the previously discussed non-clickable trackpack.  Eye tracking and rotation/position of the controller are ignored, as is headlook.  You can toss Windows 8 style application windows all over the place, floating in space or even attached to walls!  That is nifty, mostly useless, and also exactly what Microsoft started showing off about three years ago.  It is some of the worst parts of phone UI slammed into some of the most gimmicky parts of VR UI, and I hope developers create better stuff in the near future.


Magic Leap needed to really blow people away to justify the last few years.  The product they put out is reasonably solid, but is nowhere close to what they had hyped up, and has several flaws that prevent it from becoming a broadly useful tool for development of AR applications.  That is not good for the XR industry.  It is slightly better than Hololens in some ways, slightly worse in others, and generally a small step past what was state of the art three years ago – this is more Hololens 1.1 than Consumer AR 1.0.  Consumer AR can’t happen without advancement, and it seems those advancements will be coming from other companies.  There is, of course, a chance that Magic Leap is sandbagging us; maybe the real deal is just behind the next curtain!  Past experience suggests otherwise…

And then there’s the reply to Palmer via Twitter from the CEO of Magic Leap that apparently compares Magic Leap and Oculus to Avatar the last Airbender:


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Facebook Bans App That Inspired Cambridge Analytica and Suspends 400 Others

Rhett Jones, writing for Gizmodo:

In the midst of an app audit that will probably never end, Facebook gave us an update on its progress on Wednesday. While the company is still being stingy with information, it said 4 million users should expect a notification that a now-banned app called myPersonality may have misused their data. Additionally, Facebook says 400 other apps are currently suspended over suspicious activity.

Facebook’s troubles kicked off earlier this year when it revealed another personality app, This Is Your Digital Life, violated Facebook’s policies by providing user data to Cambridge Analytica, a data company working for the Trump presidential campaign. Making matters worse, the social network had known about the abuse since 2015. Following the worldwide realization that Facebook is a disastrously irresponsible company, it pledged to thoroughly review the apps on its service, ban bad actors, and notify any users that were potentially the victim of a data leak.

In its update on the app audit, Facebook said that it has decided to ban myPersonality, a personality quiz app, “for failing to agree to our request to audit and because it’s clear that they shared information with researchers as well as companies with only limited protections in place.” In May, Facebook suspended the app, which hadn’t been active since 2012, but now it’s dead and buried. MyPersonality originated at the University of Cambridge’s psychometrics department, which pioneered the novelty app that makes guesses about your personality based on your likes, posts, and other Facebook information. Aleksandr Kogan was a lecturer at Cambridge at the time that myPersonality was born, and went on to build the personality app that sold Facebook user data to Cambridge Analytica.

While Facebook is touting its progress, its hard not to feel like things are moving at an incredibly slow pace. The myPersonality app was suspended months ago, and Gizmodo reported on it back in March. On Wednesday, Facebook also said that it currently has 400 apps that are under review and are they are temporarily suspended. That doubles the number of suspended apps that it announced in May. It has not released a list of the apps that are under suspension.


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Google Data Collection research

In “Google Data Collection,” Professor Douglas C. Schmidt, Professor of Computer Science at Vanderbilt University, catalogs how much data Google is collecting about consumers and their most personal habits across all of its products and how that data is being tied together.

The key findings include:

  • A dormant, stationary Android phone (with the Chrome browser active in the background) communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period, or at an average of 14 data communications per hour. In fact, location information constituted 35 percent of all the data samples sent to Google.
  • For comparison’s sake, a similar experiment found that on an iOS device with Safari but not Chrome, Google could not collect any appreciable data unless a user was interacting with the device. Moreover, an idle Android phone running the Chrome browser sends back to Google nearly fifty times as many data requests per hour as an idle iOS phone running Safari.


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