Archive for November 9, 2022

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Analytics in Apple Apps

Thomas Germain:

The iPhone Analytics setting makes an explicit promise. Turn it off, and Apple says that it will “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.” However, Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, two app developers and security researchers at the software company Mysk, took a look at the data collected by a number of Apple iPhone apps—the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, and Stocks. They found the analytics control and other privacy settings had no obvious effect on Apple’s data collection—the tracking remained the same whether iPhone Analytics was switched on or off.


The App Store appeared to harvest information about every single thing you did in real time, including what you tapped on, which apps you search for, what ads you saw, and how long you looked at a given app and how you found it. The app sent details about you and your device as well, including ID numbers, what kind of phone you’re using, your screen resolution, your keyboard languages, how you’re connected to the internet—notably, the kind of information commonly used for device fingerprinting.

Tommy Mysk (Hacker News):

It seems that the #AppStore app on iOS 14.6 sends every tap you make in the app to Apple.


It’s unclear if Apple still collects analytics data in iOS 16, even when sharing analytics and personalized recommendations are switched off. Regardless, the App Store already knows a lot about our behavior and how we explore apps.

David Price:

But this seems more of a question of intent than one of technology, given that the tracking was happening amid the implementation of high-profile pro-privacy measures. It’s hard to see why Apple would still have been harvesting usage data under iOS 14.6 and then backtracked in a later update without any obvious motivation.

Indeed, if anything Apple has shifted its business model in the opposite direction since the heady days when App Tracking Transparency was being trumpeted as the future of user privacy.

I assume that most of the major third-party iOS apps do this, too. The difference is that, because Apple’s privacy marketing has been so successful, people assumed that it didn’t. Of course, Apple defines things so that it’s not “tracking” if the data isn’t linked to you personally and isn’t shared with other companies. But it still seems a bit creepy and not what you would expect to happen if you’ve turned off analytics and personalized ads in Settings. There’s apparently no switch to prevent iPhone from phoning home.


Update (2022-12-01): Tim Hardwick:

Apple is facing a proposed federal class action alleging that it records users’ mobile activity without their consent and despite privacy assurances, in violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act, reports Bloomberg.

See also: Hacker News.


Affinity 2

Affinity (Hacker News):

Wielding hundreds of timesaving improvements and a completely redesigned UI that will optimise your workflow, V2 is heralding in a new creative era.


Experience the full power of Version 2 of Affinity apps with the Universal Licence. For just one discounted payment, you can get the ENTIRE Affinity suite (including Publisher for iPad!) on all your devices, across macOS, Windows and iPadOS.

Amazing that it’s only $99.99—with no subscription—for everything.


Update (2022-12-02): Simeon:

Eight hours later, the brand new Affinity Photo 2 still does not show in App Store search, and with v1 removed all you get is huge double-width ads for competitors.

Disk Utility and Time Machine in Ventura

Howard Oakley:

At the time, I suggested a workaround involving manual ejection of Time Machine backup snapshots[…] Looking in the hidden folder of snapshots on that Mac, there were no longer any listed as mounted for backups. Although that may not be guaranteed in every case, it now looks as if Disk Utility and Time Machine between them have solved this problem.


One great advantage of the new System Settings is that long lists of items not to be backed up by Time Machine are now more accessible, as System Settings’ window can occupy the full height of the display.

Time Machine’s controls aren’t perhaps as obvious as they could be: two commands that you might not know how to access are to back up with a consistency scan, and browse other backup disks. These are available in Time Machine’s menu (enabled in Control Centre) with the Shift or Option key held down, respectively.

Thomas Clement:

Apple finally added more Time Machine scheduling options in Ventura.

This means that the on/off switch is now buried in the options pane, which is already confusing users.

Unlike Apple, I’m a lot more interested in scheduling when backups happen within a day than in how many days to wait between backups.


Keywords Instead of Albums With iCloud Shared Photos

Jason Snell:

[There’s] no way to share albums in iCloud Shared Photos. All the photos can be shared, but the concept of an album is currently limited to a single Apple ID.


Every item in the Photos library can be assigned a keyword, and keywords are synced across iCloud Shared Photos. So if you want to collaborate with other members of your iCloud Shared Photo library—or even if you just want them to be able to view the curation and selection—you can do this by selecting all the photos you want to collect and assigning them a keyword.