Friday Morning News

Just when you thought a major bug in Group FaceTime was set to be the biggest Apple news story of the month, Facebook comes along, says "hold my beer", and gets their Enterprise Developer Certificate revoked by Apple for abuse of the Enterprise Developer Program as part of their ongoing mission to collect more and more personal data. It all started when TechCrunch published details of Facebook’s Project Atlas, a scheme which turned out to target teenagers between 13-17, collecting private messages, chat logs, emails, web activity and history, and ongoing location information, paying them a meagre $20 per month for their personal data which Facebook collected under the guise of "Facebook Research", intended to gain insights on usage patterns and trends.

Once the story broke, Apple PR responded: "We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data."

The end result was that none of Facebook’s internal apps worked. That included apps the company developed to be used in-house, as well as in-company pre-release versions of its public apps like Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. And while at least one of Facebook’s Enterprise Developer Program certificates has been reinstated, Google also found themselves in similar hot water after discovery of its own data-collecting app distributed via the Enterprise Developer Certificate program. Apple brought down the ban-hammer on Google just like they did with Facebook, breaking their internal apps, which they’re now working closely with Apple to fix.

A new report from Bloomberg covers a lot of ground when it comes to Apple rumours. They claim 2020 iPhones will feature laser-powered 3D cameras for better AR tech, while iterative improvements are on the cards for this year’s iPhones; the iPhone XS Max in particular is expected to have three rear-facing cameras, with faster Face ID, processors, and even the possibility of USB-C across the board. Bloomberg also says iOS 13 will have a system-wide dark mode, a new home screen for iPads, and new multitasking improvements.

Over 50 new Today at Apple sessions are now available across the new and expanded formats of skills, walks, and labs. Apple’s press release says all three formats have been developed with learning and creativity in mind, and while some are more targeted towards certain age groups than others, I still find it completely wild that there’s a labs session called Drawing Treehouses created in conjunction with one of the leading architectural firms in the world, Foster + Partners.

Another Apple employee working on Apple’s secretive autonomous car project has been caught attempting to steal information. Ars Technica writes Jizhong Chen was hired by Apple in June, when he began stealing secrets almost immediately. He was caught taking photos of computer screens in a secure Apple workspace by a colleague, which led to an investigation upon which Apple discovered hundreds of images on Chen’s personal computer and smartphone. Chen has since been arrested and released after posting US $500,000 in bail.

Apple’s latest health collaboration is with US health insurance company Aetna. The company’s Attain app is designed to be used with an Apple Watch to provide personalised activity goals, tracking progress and eventually the ability to earn an Apple Watch via participation. Unlike other health insurance apps, Aetna says user privacy and data security are a key focus, with completely voluntary opt-in data sharing between users, Apple, and Aetna for the development of future capabilities.

AirBuddy is a new Mac app that aims to bring a better AirPods experience to the Mac, and the key differentiator over an app like ToothFairy seems to be better notifications and integration with the rest of the Mac. Priced at $5 or more, it’s worth noting AirBuddy will only work with devices with Apple’s magic W-series chips — no other Bluetooth devices are supported.

Fuzion is a new iOS photo-editing app that leverages the depth information in photos to create seamless blends of different images with photos taken with the iPhone’s Portrait mode. It’s a one-trick app, but opens many creative possibilities.

After all the feedback we’ve heard about the mostly mediocre butterfly keyboard, it would be incredible to see if Apple removed the keyboard altogether. I, for one, would definitely be getting out the popcorn if Apple’s next MacBook Pro has a pane of glass where the keyboard used to be, if one Apple patent is to be believed. At least keys wouldn’t stick any more, I guess.

Notable Replies

  1. The Facebook / Google Developer spying issue is absolutely shocking! Ok - not shocking, because it’s not actually all that unexpected - it’s just plain abhorrent. If my kid/s were involved I’d be seriously seeking legal advice on the issue, and I’m not typically one for class actions. (Thankfully my kids have no control over their iPads, so not an issue - nor are they old enough for Facebook.) Considering at least 1 in 7 teens are sexting, this breach of privacy is potentially not just abhorrent, but I almost hope could lead to prosecution (for the perpetrators) for dissemination of child pornography if any such files were accessed by those corporations.

    As for a glass keyboard… this isn’t Star Trek. I can’t even use a keyboard that has no space around the arrow keys.

    Something like this leaves me cold. I use my fingers, not my eyes, to find keys - they rely on spacing around the arrows / numpad etc to identify the correct positions. A glass keyboard may look pretty, but no thanks. I’m already presuming I should be buying up any 2nd hand Apple wired keyboards I can find… maybe I’ll need more than I thought.

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