Archive for February 6, 2020

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wacom Tablets Track Every App You Open

Robert Heaton (tweet, Hacker News):

But Wacom’s request made me pause. Why does a device that is essentially a mouse need a privacy policy? I wondered. Sensing skullduggery, I decided to make an exception to my anti-privacy-policy-policy and give this one a read.

In Wacom’s defense (that’s the only time you’re going to see that phrase today), the document was short and clear, although as we’ll see it wasn’t entirely open about its more dubious intentions (here’s the full text). In addition, despite its attempts to look like the kind of compulsory agreement that must be accepted in order to unlock the product behind it, as far as I can tell anyone with the presence of mind to decline it could do so with no adverse consequences.


Some of the events that Wacom were recording were arguably within their purview, such as “driver started” and “driver shutdown”. I still don’t want them to take this information because there’s nothing in it for me, but their attempt to do so feels broadly justifiable. What requires more explanation is why Wacom think it’s acceptable to record every time I open a new application, including the time, a string that presumably uniquely identifies me, and the application’s name.

Update (2020-02-14): Malcolm Owen:

Wacom has responded to allegations drivers for its tablet line are collecting data on its users and passing it on to Google, including the names of macOS applications being used, by claiming it has no access to personal data and what data it collects is anonymized before it is seen by the company.

Apple’s Independent Repair Program Contract

Maddie Stone (tweet, Hacker News, MacRumors):

In order to join the program, the contract states independent repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple, which are intended, at least in part, to search for and identify the use of “prohibited” repair parts, which Apple can impose fines for. If they leave the program, Apple reserves the right to continue inspecting repair shops for up to five years after a repair shop leaves the program. Apple also requires repair shops in the program to share information about their customers at Apple’s request, including names, phone numbers, and home addresses.

The privacy company.

Furthermore, IRPs must obtain “express written acknowledgement” from customers showing they understand they are not receiving repairs from an authorized service provider[…]

This is kind of confusing because the whole point of being an IRP is to get authorized parts. Shops using unauthorized parts will require no such written acknowledgement.

If Apple determines that more than 2 percent of a repair business’s transactions involved “prohibited products,” it can, per the contract, force the business to pay Apple $1,000 for every transaction that occurred during the audit period, in addition to reimbursing Apple for the cost of its investigation.

This seems risky because what’s prohibited is not well defined.

Colin Cornaby:

I think the most anti-competitive thing Apple does is prevent shops from stocking repair parts. It prevents them from getting out to places like eBay, but puts independent repair shops at a speed disadvantage. They can’t order parts until they start the repair.


Update (2020-02-07): See also: Hacker News.

Objective-C Quiz

Robert Widmann:

Objective-C is a simpler language than Swift.

The Ontology around Objective-C is a minefield of complexity far outweighing anything Swift could hope to approach.

Before you argue with me, take a short quiz.

David Smith:

I believe I can probably generate a longer list of hard to answer questions in Swift using only the behavior of the “as?” operator, so I’m not sure I agree with your premise.

Regardless, it’s an interesting quiz, though I have quibbles with some of the wording.

macOS 10.15.4 and iOS 13.4 in Beta

It looks like these updates will be about a lot more than bug fixes.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

UIKey! Are we finally getting keyboard key up/down events on iOS and Catalyst?

Steve Troughton-Smith:


Steve Troughton-Smith:

Home in 10.15.4 does indeed do away with the spinning date pickers. They obviously haven’t finished redesigning for the compact picker — but this is what it looks like. You click, you type a number

Sounds like it will still be inconsistent with NSDatePicker.

Ryan Christoffel:

iOS 13.4 beta restores iCloud Drive Folder Sharing.

Guilherme Rambo:

New “head pointer” accessibility feature in 10.15.4. Control the cursor with head movements.

Benjamin Mayo:

OS 13.4 has reverted a bad design choice made with the iOS 13 Mail app, namely the actions toolbar the bottom of the screen.

The delete and reply buttons now sit at opposite ends of the toolbar, and Apple has added back the quick actions for flagging and moving folders.


Update (2020-02-07): Juli Clover:

Below, we’ve rounded up all of the changes that we’ve found in iOS and iPadOS 13.4 so far.

Joe Rossignol:

Over the last few months, an increasing number of references to AMD processors have been uncovered in macOS Catalina code, starting with the 10.15.2 beta in November and now continuing in the 10.15.4 beta.