This week in ExtraBITS, Apple’s ranking in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who Has Your Back?” report has risen substantially. But Apple’s policies aren’t helping developer Panic, which is pulling the next version of its Coda Web site development tool from the Mac App Store due to Apple’s sandboxing requirements. Also at Apple’s mercy are iPhone users who have switched to Android and found themselves unable to receive SMS text messages from iMessage users. In other news, Amazon is playing dirty with publisher Hachette, it turns out to be impossible to escape the watchful eye of Gmail, and TidBITS Managing Editor Josh Centers made an appearance on The Tech Night Owl podcast.
Apple Improves Ranking in EFF “Who Has Your Back?” Report — The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released its annual “Who Has Your Back?” report, which ranks companies on six factors related to how they comply with government information requests and stand up for user privacy. Thanks in part to Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance, many companies have taken greater measures to ensure user privacy. Apple, in particular, showed dramatic improvement — jumping from one star in 2013 to a full six this year. Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo also now score a full six stars.
Sandboxing Requirement Chases Coda off the Mac App Store — Developer Panic has decided to not sell version 2.5 of its Apple Design Award-winning Coda Web development app in the Mac App Store, citing the difficulty of working with Apple’s sandboxing requirements. Apple began requiring apps submitted to, or updated on, the Mac App Store to be sandboxed as of 1 June 2012, forcing many developers to pull their apps from the store, stop updating them, or remove features to comply with the requirements.
The iMessage Trap — Adam Pash, formerly of Lifehacker, recently switched from iPhone to Android, but his phone number is still tied to iMessage, preventing him from receiving SMS text messages on his new phone from iMessage users. According to Pash, Apple support informed him that engineers are working on a fix for the problem, but don’t currently have a reliable solution.
Amazon Plays Dirty with Hachette Writers — Amazon and book publisher Hachette are embroiled in a bitter contract dispute, and Hachette’s authors are feeling the pinch. Amazon, which now controls about one-third of book sales, has launched a campaign to discourage customers from purchasing Hachette titles, removing discounts, taking weeks to ship books, and recommending competing titles. While it’s likely that there are other sides to the story, Amazon did not respond to questions from David Streitfeld at the New York Times.
You Can’t Escape Gmail — Do you avoid Gmail due to privacy concerns? Your resistance is futile. Benjamin Mako Hill has hosted his own email for the past 15 years, and despite that, he found that over half of his email messages either come from or go to a Gmail account, where they can be analyzed by the search giant’s automated algorithms. Of course, the same is roughly true of other large mail hosting firms, so although the mail you send isn’t likely to allow these companies to target ads at you better, it’s far from being a private communication between you and the recipient.
Josh Centers Discusses WWDC on Tech Night Owl — TidBITS Managing Editor Josh Centers joined host Gene Steinberg on The Tech Night Owl podcast for a lively discussion of what’s coming next at WWDC, Fire TV impressions, and ComiXology removing in-app purchases from its iOS app.