Thursday Morning News

Prism iconArs Technica starts us off this morning by putting forward the case for backing up to iTunes instead of iCloud. In light of the Apple versus FBI privacy and security debate, iCloud backups provide a loophole to allow Apple to hand over your data to law enforcement agencies, which is why it might backing up to iTunes might be a better option for those concerned about their personal privacy. Local encrypted backups are the only type of backup you can do that contain “account passwords, Wi-Fi settings, browsing history, and data from the Health app”, as explained by Ars.

Apple wants Congress to decide on whether it should be assisting the FBI in its investigation of the San Bernardino shooting by intentionally compromising the security of one device, which could set a dangerous precedent for future cases of this nature. However, The Verge says that Apple’s strategy isn’t without risk, as Congress could pass a law to force all smartphone manufacturers to include government backdoors in their products.

Perhaps Apple’s move to make the case go before Congress is a smart one, seeing as they already have the support of one congressman, Ted Lieu. Lieu has already asked FBI Director James Comey to withdraw its request for Apple’s assistance under the All Writs Act, saying if Apple is forced to comply, the encryption and security of other devices could be similarly bypassed.

Over at the Washington Post, Bruce Schneier writes we should be siding with Apple in the case, not the FBI. Encryption is one of the best security features around, and if that encryption is compromised, it means all the data on your iPhone is an open book. I’m not sure how accurate Schneier’s claims the software that runs on iPhones (i.e. iOS) isn’t “encrypted” as such, but is instead protected by Apple’s private key to ensure only legitimate copies of iOS run on iPhones, but his later correction about all iPhones being “vulnerable” to this kind of security exploit (a compromised version of iOS, signed with Apple’s master key) has serious implications.

In rumour news, 9to5Mac says Apple will be bringing Siri to the Mac with OS X 10.12. They claim Apple has been testing versions of OS X with Siri internally since at least 2012, but haven’t brought the personal assistant from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac for whatever reason. OS X 10.12 is expected to be released later this year.

The Apple TV App Store now has a “Not on This Apple TV” category, which can show you apps that have been purchased but not yet downloaded to your Apple TV.

The Apple Pencil will see its navigation capabilities restored in a future iOS release, ending speculation about whether the feature was intentionally removed or not from the iOS 9.3 betas. Apple confirmed the good news to The Verge and iMore, after the issue was raised publicly by the latter yesterday.

Speaking of Apple accessories, Apple has issued a Smart Keyboard firmware update, and while there’s no release notes to say what changed, you can bet there’s under-the-hood improvements.

The latest update of to-do app Todoist brings 3D Touch to devices that support it, along with a native Apple Watch app and updates to the Safari plugin on the Mac.

Prism is a futuristic puzzle box for your iPhone or iPad, along the same lines as the excellent iOS puzzle series The Room. If you’re looking for your next iOS puzzler fix, Prism is $4.49 on the Australian App Store.

Notable Replies

  1. Erwin says:

    Completely agree, as iCloud doesn’t have enough space anyway unless you pay.

  2. recd says:

    Thanks Benny

    I leave the keyboard permanently connected. Just discovered I had to disconnect and then reconnect the keyboard before I received the firmware update message.

    I f you hadn’t mentioned this not sure when, if ever, I would heve received the update notification.

  3. kyte says:

    I’ve been doing encrypted local backups ever since I found out thats the only way to preserve passwords etc. The one icloud backup that did exist because I forgot to switch to computer has been deleted. I have nothing I’m ashamed of or that would get me in trouble, but thats no reason to absolve myself of responsibility for my own privacy. Its important to me.

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