“Take Control of Apple TV” author Josh Centers has extensive experience with cord cutting — trading traditional cable or satellite TV for an Internet-based service — so The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple invited him onto The Dalrymple Report podcast to talk about the available options. They discuss the complications of getting rid of traditional TV service, Josh’s favorite alternative services, and rural TV technology of yesteryear.
If you’re still using a first-generation Apple TV, be aware that Apple will cut off its access to the iTunes Store on 25 May 2018 due to security changes. These security changes will also prevent PCs running Windows XP and Windows Vista from accessing the iTunes Store. The hard-drive equipped first-generation Apple TV shipped in January 2007 and was available through September 2010. The second-generation Apple TV and later will continue being able to get content from the iTunes Store.
Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Fast Company’s Robert Safian. Cook is feeling pretty good about his tenure at Apple, saying up front that he has “only had good years.” Despite the excellent performance of Apple stock, Cook expresses misgivings about the stock market and discusses Apple’s patience in developing products (“Because we don’t believe in using our customers as a laboratory.”), how he reads customer feedback (“I tend to weight the ones that are most thoughtful.”), and how Apple wants to help its customers do the right thing (such as with Do Not Disturb While Driving).
If you thought the U.S. legal concept of copyright had caught up with the Internet, you’d be wrong. District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest has ruled that you could infringe copyright by embedding someone else’s tweet on a Web page. The case in question involves a photo of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that the photographer, Justin Goldman, posted to a Snapchat Story. Others then tweeted the photograph, and those tweets were embedded by various publications, which Goldman is suing. The problem is that in-line linking is one of the core capabilities of the Internet, and if the logic surrounding this ruling were extended more broadly, it would have a chilling effect on common Internet behavior. (Too bad no one listened to Ted Nelson in the pre-Web days, since his Xanadu hypertext system understood the importance of maintaining — and paying for, with micropayments — ownership of embedded content.)
Every year, a team from iFixit races to Australia to get one of the first of the latest iPhones in order to tear it apart and document what they find. Motherboard joined the company on this year’s quest to get inside the iPhone X — it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes. iFixit is a boon to the Apple community since they do more than anyone to promote DIY device repair.
For years, Apple has stuck to a strict schedule of annual iOS releases that sport a sometimes dizzying array of new capabilities. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, whose sources have proven generally reliable, is reporting that Apple will be holding back some of the more ambitious features in iOS 12 to focus instead on polish and reliability. Under the new scheme, major features will be planned over a two-year period, with engineers having more leeway to delay features that need more work. That doesn’t mean iOS 12 will be devoid of new features. One of the most interesting, Gurman says, will enable developers to create apps that work on both macOS and iOS. That will likely have significant implications for Apple users.
Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu teamed up to learn the extent to which home automation devices report back to their manufacturers and leak personal information. Hill filled her house with smart devices, including an Amazon Echo, lights, coffee maker, TV, and even a bed. Then she had Surya monitor how much data was sent out by the devices. The results may shock you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst offender was the Amazon Echo, which contacted Amazon’s servers every few minutes, even when the “Alexa” wake word and the microphone were turned off.
The MacUpdate site was hacked on 1 February 2018, and the attackers slipped malicious code into updates for Firefox, OnyX, and Deeper that would use CPU cycles on infected machines to mine cryptocurrency. Malwarebytes has instructions for removing the malware. Although MacUpdate removed the offending updates quickly, the moral of the story is that it’s always best to update an app from inside the app itself or via the developer’s Web site.
On the rebooted Menu Bar podcast, which focuses on Apple and related subjects, former Apple employee Bob Burrough stopped by to discuss his experiences working on the original iPhone, including how he smuggled the first production models out of China. Burrough also talks about the transition from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook and the resulting changes in company culture. Burrough says that under Jobs, employees were allowed to call out faults anywhere they saw them, regardless of whether or not it was in their wheelhouse, but under Cook, Apple employees are encouraged to stay in their own lanes.
In the view of many long-time Mac users, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was the pinnacle of Apple’s desktop software, with every update since a step backward in one way or another. 9to5Mac’s Michael Steeber looks into this phenomenon and its origins. Along with the timing and pricing issues Steeber mentions, an argument could be made that Snow Leopard was the last version of OS X before Apple started to add iOS elements in 10.7 Lion. Plus, Snow Leopard was the final version of OS X to support Rosetta, and thus the last version that could run PowerPC applications. Despite all this, it’s worth remembering that Snow Leopard hasn’t seen a security update in years.
How’s this for an unintended consequence? The Strava fitness app, which brands itself as the “social network for athletes,” lets users map their workouts, which has led to a potentially deadly security breach. U.S. troops stationed abroad are using Strava to share their workouts, and a heat map released by the company reveals the locations of military bases and travel routes — some known, others not. The company responded by pointing out the app’s privacy settings, but this is likely a problem the military will have to solve with smarter policy.
It will be a while before we see in-depth analyses of the HomePod’s audio capabilities, but iMore’s Serenity Caldwell was impressed by its sound quality in her first impressions of Apple’s new smart speaker. She compared it to the Amazon Echo, Google Home Max, and the Sonos One, and “came away from that test both impressed and shocked by the engineering Apple has put into making this tiny 7-inch speaker a musical powerhouse in your living room.” On the downside, she notes that the HomePod currently lacks stereo pairing, multi-room audio, multi-user support, and native support for services other than Apple Music.
For the third year in a row, Jason Snell of Six Colors has issued his report card on Apple’s performance, once again polling 50 “writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.” This year, the group includes TidBITS staffers and contributors Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Josh Centers, Michael Cohen, Jeff Carlson, Glenn Fleishman, Joe Kissell, Kirk McElhearn, and Rich Mogull. Overall, the group expressed more positive opinions about how Apple did in 2017 than in 2016, but there were dips in software quality, hardware quality, and handling of social issues.
A new piece of Mac malware is making the rounds. OSX/MaMi hijacks macOS’s DNS settings to intercept traffic by routing it through malicious servers. Additional capabilities, which didn’t seem to be active in the version that researcher Patrick Wardle analyzed, including taking screenshots, generating simulated mouse events, persisting as a launch item, downloading and uploading files, and executing commands. The motive, author, and how OSX/MaMi is spread are currently unknown, and when the Hacker News article was published, antivirus apps weren’t able to detect it. To see if you’re infected, check your DNS settings in System Preferences > Network, and look for the DNS servers 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168. But unless you did something to bypass macOS’s Gatekeeper security, you likely have nothing to worry about since the malware’s executable isn’t signed by Apple.
Twitter user Abraham Masri has discovered a Web link that, when opened in the Messages app on iOS or macOS, causes freezing, crashing, battery issues, and other nasty behavior. This isn’t the first time that a rogue link or piece of text has broken one of Apple’s apps. Apple will likely release a fix soon.