Archive for October 26, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Protecting Against Rogue Camera Access

Felix Krause (MacRumors):

iOS users often grant camera access to an app soon after they download it (e.g., to add an avatar or send a photo). These apps, like a messaging app or any news-feed-based app, can easily track the users face, take pictures, or live stream the front and back camera, without the user’s consent.

[…]

How can the root of the problem be fixed, so we don’t have to use camera covers?

  • Offer a way to grant temporary access to the camera (e.g. to take and share one picture with a friend on a messaging app), related to detect.location.
  • Show an icon in the status bar that the camera is active, and force the status bar to be visible whenever an app accesses the camera
  • Add an LED to the iPhone’s camera (both sides) that can’t be worked around by sandboxed apps, which is the elegant solution that the MacBook uses

Three MacBook Mistakes: Will Apple Correct Course?

Jason Snell:

It’s been nearly three years since the new MacBook arrived bearing a single USB-C port for both charging and peripherals. Through two revision cycles, it has remained largely unchanged. USB-C hubs do exist, but the fact is that out of the box, you can’t power the MacBook and attach any USB devices. That’s less than ideal. So is a redesign in the works, and might Apple take that opportunity to add a second USB-C port?

[…]

An entire generation of Apple laptops may be saddled with fragile, unpleasant keyboards. And a laptop without a functional keyboard is basically useless.

[…]

My early hopes that app developers would innovate with the Touch Bar to improve productivity have also been dashed, more or less. A year later, the Touch Bar seems to have no momentum and fails to provide a compelling reason for users to embrace it.

Dan Counsell:

In general, the Touch Bar MacBook Pro is an excellent machine. It’s fast and well built. However, I’m not a fan of the new keyboard and touch bar, and when you combine that with the list of other issues I have, it’s easy to think that maybe I should have just stuck with the 2015 MacBook Pro.

[…]

Apple may have pushed to hard this time and misjudged the line between Innovation and annoyance.

Michael Love:

So yeah, I’m feeling more and more like old non-crappy MacBook + iMac (Pro or non) is going to be the way to go for a lot of developers.

This is what I’m doing.

I’m optimistic in a year or two Apple will come to their senses + release a laptop that can be my only computer, but isn’t so right now.

Previously: Unreliable MacBook Pro Keyboards, The Impossible Dream of USB-C, New MacBook Pros and the State of the Mac.

Update (2017-10-27): Colin Cornaby:

MacBook Pro shenanigans are a big reason my primary is still a desktop.

Angela Ahrendts’s Plan for Apple Retail

Nicole Nguyen (via Ben Lovejoy):

In February 2016, Ahrendts removed the word “store” from the retail naming convention (for example, Apple Store Union Square is now called Apple Union Square) — and at the most recent keynote, she said, “It’s funny, we actually don’t call them ‘stores’ anymore. We call them ‘town squares’ because they’re gathering places for 500 million people who visit us every year.” The phrasing didn’t sit well with critics, who say that a retail store that sells $1,000 iPhones is hardly a space synonymous with civic life, that it’s not actually a public place, and that calling it such is a “pretentious farce.”

[…]

“It used to be that 80/20 rule — [malls] would be 80% shopping and 20% experience. It’s got to go the opposite now, because all the shopping you can do faster, cheaper, etc., online,” Ahrendts said in a May 2017 interview with LinkedIn.

By adding communal features (including free Wi-Fi and outdoor tables) and offering classes (that extol the features of Macs and iOS devices), Ahrendts is hoping to persuade customers to spend more time in Apple Stores. Maybe they’ll even want to buy something. You can now go to the Apple Store to learn how to code in a schmancy new theater, or watch a performance by an Apple Music–featured singer-songwriter, or sit under a tree with a Genius to figure out why your iPhone doesn’t charge anymore, or watch as an illustrator doodles live (on, of course, an iPad).

[…]

Ahrendts also made a number of refinements to in-store service. Going to the Apple Store “shouldn’t be like going the dentist,” she said. You can now get a text message when someone at the Genius Bar is available, instead of having to wait around. That bar has also been, in some locations, refashioned into an airy “Grove” with additional seating. Updating the Genius area may be the most visible operations work Ahrendts is doing. Getting a broken iPhone, Mac, or iPad serviced remains a frustratingexperiencefor many.

I don’t see anything about increasing the Genius capacity or improving the appointments experience. It’s a nice idea to make people want to spend more time in the stores, but that seems at odds with what seems to be the current reality: stores that are overcrowded and understaffed.

Previously: Apple’s Support Gap.

Update (2017-10-27): Stephen Hackett:

Apple can make it stores as beautiful as they want, but until it can more effectively manage the many, many customers who show up needing support, the stores will still be frustrating.

Amazon Revokes Delicious Library API Access

Amazon:

We are writing to tell you that effective as of today’s date, Amazon is terminating your Associates account. Under the terms of the Operating Agreement, we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause. This decision is final and not subject to appeal.

[…]

You are using Content or Special Links, or otherwise linking to the Amazon Site, on or in connection with a browser plug-in, toolbar, extension, or other client-side software.

Wil Shipley:

The stated reason (above) that non-North-American Amazons dropped us appears to be that we’re linking to Amazon from a program instead of from a website, which isn’t something we can change — Delicious Library is definitely a program! (I believe North America hasn’t dropped us because they understand our business model better, and because we have managed to turn off our advertising fees in the U.S. We’d love to turn them off in other countries, if we knew how, and were accepted back.)

It’s an odd and unfortunate situation. The API for searching Amazon’s catalog is only available through the Amazon Associates program, which pays a commission fee when a customer clicks through to Amazon from a tagged link and then makes a purchase. Delicious Monster is not abusing the program/API to get more commissions—indeed, they’re willing to decline the fees entirely—they just want to use the API to look up barcodes in Amazon’s catalog. It would be beneficial for all the parties concerned for the app to keep working, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to communicate that.

John Gruber:

I told the story a few months ago that I got dumped from Amazon’s affiliate program because of a single article from over a decade ago where I encouraged DF readers to bookmark my Amazon affiliate URL. I actually think that was allowed back when I wrote it, but apparently now it’s against Amazon’s terms. That’s fine. But the way they dumped me was a bit unsettling[…]

Apple’s practice is also to close an account without prior warning or a way to appeal. For better or worse, developers don’t have separate Apple accounts for different countries.