Thursday Morning News

Apple has announced improvements to Siri’s privacy protections, following online backlash over the news that Apple contractors were listening to audio snippets caused by Siri activation. Apple’s statement on the issue begins with some preamble about how Siri protects your privacy, and how any captured data was only used for the express purpose of making Siri better, but the bottom line is that Siri audio recordings will no longer be retained. If you choose to opt-in to help improve Siri, your audio recordings will only be listened to by Apple employees, who will have no way to identify any individual from the recording itself, and you’ll be able to opt-out again at any time you choose.

Apple surprised everyone yesterday by releasing the first beta of iOS 13.1, despite iOS 13 still being in beta. The iOS 13.1 beta, now available to members of Apple’s public beta program, restores a number of features that aren’t in the original release of iOS 13, for whatever reason. The biggest feature is probably the return of Shortcuts Automations, with a number of other minor visual tweaks across the board, as covered by MacRumors. The full release notes has more information.

Despite the confusing delivery, the message seems pretty clear here: Apple wants you to be on iOS 13.1, even before iOS 13 is out. Which is a good thing, seeing as there are some iOS 13 features that aren’t as good as they could be, or are worse than their current iOS 12 forms. 9to5Mac says Apple’s Home app falls into the latter camp, with strange design choices that make multi-device HomeKit accessories more frustrating to use.

With Apple recalling certain 15-inch MacBook Pros due to faulty batteries and the FAA reminding airlines in the US that recalled batteries are aways banned from flying, it was only a matter of time until local airlines did something about it. Now, both Qantas and Virgin Australia have released statements. Qantas says that while 15-inch MacBook Pros are still allowed to fly, they must remain turned off for the duration of the flight. Virgin is taking a similar stance, saying that while all MacBook Pros are allowed to fly, they can only be put into carry-on luggage, with no MacBook Pros permitted in checked luggage until further notice.

9to5Mac has a hands-on preview of Apple Arcade, telling us about some of the games that will launch across macOS, iOS, and Apple TV later this year. The games themselves seem like pretty standard indie fare, which seems in line with the idea of Apple Arcade in the first place. While it would be nice for triple-A titles to be in Apple Arcade, publishers are more likely to have their own subscription service already, so it makes more sense for Apple Arcade to be aimed at indie developers and publishers.

With the introduction of Offline Finding in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina that allows even sleeping, disconnected devices to be found via other Apple portables in the vicinity, Apple has been rumoured to be introducing a Tile competitor that will leverage the same technology to be located and found. A new icon in iOS 13 now suggests that this accessory may even have some ARKit capability, potentially allowing for your lost personal items to be located within AR space, or even leashed to a device like your iPhone or Apple Watch so you can be alerted when your personal item is out of range.

The Washington Post says it doesn’t matter whether you have an Apple Card or other credit card from any other US bank, the Apple Card isn’t some kind of magic silver bullet that prevents your purchase information from being mined and shared with third parties. Despite Apple’s strong stance regarding user privacy and security, Apple isn’t a bank, so they have very little control over how Goldman Sachs performs their business, which includes the delivery of Apple Card.

AppleInsider tells us about a recent Apple patent that uses light to detect when a key has been pressed. The idea isn’t new, and you can already buy keyboards with optical switches today, but it’s unclear from the patent exactly how Apple’s implementation differs from the current. That might explain why it hasn’t been granted yet.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Steve Wozniak says while he wishes Apple had broken up into separate businesses a long time ago, he also admires how Apple has handled its role as a leader in the technology space. Wozniak’s only reasoning for breaking up big tech companies is that "big tech has gotten too big", it’s "too powerful a force in our life", and "it’s taken our choices away". Maybe I’m missing some context here, but that’s not exactly a compelling argument.

MacStories wraps up this morning’s news with two iOS app reviews: there’s the better OCR offered by Prizmo 5 which is now free with in-app purchases, as well as the ambient noise generated by brand new app Dark Noise.

Start the discussion at