Archive for September 5, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

In-Screen Touch ID Coming Back to iPhone

Mark Gurman and Debby Wu:

The upcoming fingerprint reader would be embedded in the screen, letting a user scan their fingerprint on a large portion of the display, and it would work in tandem with the existing Face ID system, the people familiar with Apple’s plans said.


Apple is considering including this in-screen touch sensor in the 2020 iPhone model if testing is successful, the people said. Suppliers have proven their ability to integrate the technology into iPhones, but the company has not managed to mass-produce it yet, one person familiar with the development work said.

Having redundant sensors sounds wasteful, but I’m looking forward to this. The longer I use Face ID, the more I’m annoyed at how much slower it makes the common case of unlocking my phone as I pull it out of my pocket. Yet I don’t want to switch back to only Touch ID because there are cases where it doesn’t work at all.


Update (2019-09-06): John Gruber:

If true, I would guess this would be an optional way to increase security by requiring both Face ID and Touch ID authentication.

Update (2019-09-09): Joe Rossignol:

“Certainly, we’ll continue to put [Face ID] on more devices but also Touch ID will continue to have a role - it’s a great technology on our iPad lineup and we don’t see it going away anytime soon,” said Joswiak.

Update (2019-10-25): Josh Avant:

Apple is apparently curious about how many people miss Touch ID. (Source: Apple consumer survey for iPhone)

They also seem to know exactly why Touch ID is the superior unlocking technology.

Search Ads for Competing Products

Jason Fried:

When Google puts 4 paid ads ahead of the first organic result for your own brand name, you’re forced to pay up if you want to be found. It’s a shakedown. It’s ransom.

Tobi Lütke:

It’s totally crazy for google to get away with charging what’s basically protection money on your own brand name. “Nice high intend traffic you got there, would be a shame if something were to happen to it”

John Gruber:

And of course, Google doesn’t let you target any of their own trademarks this way, and won’t even let you mention “Google” in your ad text. And Google no longer visually styles paid results distinctively from actual search results — just the little “Ad” icon before the result URL.

I think it’s useful to be able to find out about related products through ads. What feels wrong is that the ads don’t really look like ads. It looks like a list of results where the organic one, which is almost certainly what the person wants, is never at the top. So, (a) you have to pay to be where you should have been anyway, and (b) some customers will click the first result and end up somewhere unexpected.

Pieter Gunst:

Lots of misleading ads also...

Jason Snell:

See also App Store ads

Dominik Wagner:

E.g. search for Things, then the first and full scale entry is a competitor that paid.

Paul Haddad:

Apple sure is better than Google.

At least Apple uses a different color for the ad.

Sascha Rucks:

We even got a call from an Apple sales rep who made clear that we need to bid on our own keywords/brand name to make sure that we are at first place and not one of our competitors…

For once, maybe it’s good that the Mac App Store doesn’t have feature parity.

Cale Guthrie Weissman:

Data from Jumpshot says that more than 50% of Google searches in June didn’t result in a click. The results show that organic search clicks are going down even as paid Google search clicks are going up, as are searches to result in no clicks whatsoever. For brands, businesses and marketers who rely on organic Google search results to drive commerce, this means recalibrating how they think of Google in their plans.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Google is slowly but surely choking the web. This is what monopoly power inevitably leads to. The noblest of founding intentions is no match for the imperative.

Juli Clover:

For basic searches like “maps,” Apple’s apps ranked first more than 60 percent of the time in the WSJ’s testing. Apps that generate revenue like Music or Books showed up first in 95 percent of related searches.


Apple says that it uses an algorithm that uses machine learning and past consumer preferences, leading to app rankings that often fluctuate. Apple suggested that its apps ranked first in the WSJ’s testing because those apps are popular with consumers. Apple says that all apps are subjected to the same search algorithm, including its own.


Update (2019-09-06): Kyle Howells:

It’s shameful how Google has regressed from clearly showing ads, to gradually trying to hide them and trick people into thinking they are the search results.

Update (2019-11-27): David Heinemeier Hansson:

This is frustrating. We’d so much rather spend our money providing Basecamp for free for personal use than pay the Google tax to defend against predatory, VC-boosted ads squatting on our brand. *sigh*

Especially from company that’s on that growth-uber-alles path with no need to turn a profit. I mean when you’ve raised over $200,000,000, you’re not exactly bound by the same laws of business as the rest of us.

And Google of course does nothing. We filed for trademark protection three months ago, which they granted (so ads can’t use our TM in their ad text), but they simply refuse to enforce their own policy. Of course. Because they make more money doing nothing!

Brent Simmons:

They do the same thing to OmniFocus — and they don’t even get the capitalization right. I don’t expect better from them, but I’d like better from Google.

Wil Shipley:

I continue to be impressed with how incredibly useful and user-friendly ads in the App Store are. Such a good idea!

Update (2019-12-20): Marco Arment:

App Store search results for “podcast”:

[Ad] Podbean Podcast App
Your podcast app for iPhone

Apple Podcasts

The Podcast App
Podcast App for iPhone

The Podcast App Premium
for The Podcast App

Award-winning podcast player

The Podcast Player
Podcast app by Castbox

Update (2021-05-06): Tom Warren:

Tim Sweeney getting angry at Apple in 2018 over Fortnite not being the number 1 result in the App Store. All because Microsoft, PUBG, and others kept buying ads in the App Store for search results

Both Apple and Google apps appeared at the top of the list when searching for “Dropbox”, and the Dropbox app wasn’t even on the first page.

Update (2021-10-28): Sebastiaan de With:

Here’s me searching for the name of my app. Lightroom is the top result and almost all of my screen.

Significant iOS Vulnerabilities Used Against Uyghur Muslims in China

Rich Mogull:

On 29 August 2019, Google’s Project Zero security research team released the details of a major series of attacks against iOS using sophisticated, zero-day exploits on a scale unprecedented in the iOS world. (Wired has a less technical summary of the Project Zero report, which is aimed at security professionals.) This is the most significant iOS security incident we are aware of since the launch of the iPhone. And while it’s extremely unlikely that any TidBITS readers had their devices compromised, the news remains a concerning development.


Infection was easy: if a user visited one of the hacked Web sites using an iOS device, that device would be infected with implanted malware without having to interact with the user in any way. That malware could monitor the infected device’s GPS location data in real time, up to once per minute. It could also steal files on the device[…]


First off, because Google reported all the exploits to Apple quickly, and Apple responded by patching them all in iOS within days, you’re protected from these particular attacks as long as you’re running an updated version of iOS. The implant malware could also be removed merely by restarting the iPhone.

Catalin Cimpanu:

The Zerodium CEO said “the zero-day market is so flooded by iOS exploits” that they are now refusing them

Also, check out this statement regarding iOS security.

Gmail for iOS Can Now Block Web Bugs

Chance Miller (via Yan Zhu):

Google today has rolled out an update to the Gmail app for iOS that gives users the ability to further curtail email tracking. The latest update adds a new setting that allows users to block external images in emails from being displayed automatically.

With today’s update, users can choose to be asked each time whether or not to display external images in an email. This includes email trackers that can be hidden in the body of emails.

Every e-mail client should offer this.