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#1660: OS updates for sports and security, Drobo in bankruptcy, why TidBITS doesn’t cover rumors

In what may be the final feature release of its 2022 family of operating systems, Apple rolled out iOS 16.5, iPadOS 16.5, macOS 13.4 Ventura, watchOS 9.5, tvOS 16.5, and HomePod Software 16.5 with sports-related improvements and bug fixes. tvOS now offers a multiview option for watching up to four games simultaneously, and Apple News provides a Sports section that focuses on game scores, recaps, and more. The updates also bring essential security fixes, some of which migrate down to older versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. Drobo has switched to a self-service support model and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, suggesting that Drobo owners should start researching alternative storage solutions. After relating all these facts, publisher Adam Engst explains why TidBITS doesn’t cover rumors to avoid participating in the corrosive spiral they engender in the industry. Notable Mac app releases this week include Safari 16.5, macOS Monterey 12.6.6 and Big Sur 11.7.7, Fantastical 3.7.13, Default Folder X 5.7.7, PopChar X 9.5, BusyCal 2023.2.2, Parallels Desktop 18.3, Microsoft Office for Mac 16.73, Pixelmator Pro 3.3.3, and Affinity Designer, Photo, and Publisher 2.1.

Adam Engst No comments

iOS 15.7.6 and iPadOS 15.7.6 Incorporate Rapid Security Response Fixes

The fixes that Apple distributed in its first Rapid Security Responses were also needed by older versions of iOS and iPad (see “What Are Rapid Security Responses and Why Are They Important?” 2 May 2023). Apple has now released iOS 15.7.6 and iPadOS 15.7.6 to address two WebKit security vulnerabilities handled by the Rapid Security Responses for iOS 16.4.1 (a) and iPadOS 16.4.1 (a).

But that’s not all. The security notes outline 15 additional now-blocked vulnerabilities, including another WebKit vulnerability Apple says is being actively exploited in the wild. I recommend immediately updating older iPhones and iPads that can’t run iOS 16. If iOS 16 is an option for your device, you must upgrade to version 16.5 instead of updating iOS 15.

Adam Engst 5 comments

StorCentric and Drobo in Chapter 7: Start Looking for Drobo Replacements

A banner at the top of the Drobo website reads:

As of January 27th, 2023, Drobo support and products are no longer available.

Drobo support has transitioned to a self-service model. The knowledge basedocumentation repository, and legacy documentation library are still accessible for your support needs.

We thank you for being a Drobo customer and entrusting us with your data.

Drobo website statement

In mid-2022, Drobo filed for restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy alongside its parent company StorCentric. Both bankruptcies have now been converted to the liquidation-focused Chapter 7. While another company could still purchase Drobo and restart sales and support, the statement atop Drobo’s website offers little hope.

If you’re still using a Drobo, I encourage you to make sure you have good backups and start looking for an alternative, either a direct-attached drive or a network-attached storage device. Check out Jeff Carlson’s “NAS: What You Need to Know before Buying” (27 August 2018) and the latest version of his ebook Take Control of Your Digital Storage. Plus, our former managing editor Josh Centers still likes his Synology (see “Using a Synology NAS to Escape the Cloud,” 29 April 2022).

Don’t Worry about Retrospect

The initial version of this article raised the question of what would happen to Retrospect, which was also owned by StorCentric. I’ve now heard from Robin Mayoff, director of Retrospect Support (and a Retrospect employee since 1995), that Retrospect (like another StorCentric subsidiary Nexsan) has emerged from Chapter 11 under new company ownership. Mayoff posted this Alive and well note in Retrospect’s support forum:

A few articles have come out that talk about the StorCentric chapter 7 bankruptcy. Retrospect is under a new parent company. Customers for Retrospect are fully supported, and our website, distributors and resellers are actively selling Retrospect 19.1. Our engineering team is looking into new and exciting features for future versions of Retrospect. Support can always be reached at [email protected].

So I rescind any previous or implied suggestion that Retrospect users start looking for alternatives. Since its introduction by Dantz Development in 1989, Retrospect has survived through being purchased by EMC in 2004, shut down in 2007, revived in 2008 with a transfer to new EMC subsidiary Iomega, and sold in 2010 to Roxio, whose parent company Sonic Solutions was soon acquired by Rovi, which had no interest in backup software. The core Retrospect team then spun Retrospect out of Rovi in 2012 and developed the app for 7 years before StorCentric acquired it. If my math is correct, Retrospect’s new ownership marks the company’s eighth incarnation across 33 years, a history that exceeds even our own.

Adam Engst 23 comments

TidBITS Doesn’t Cover Rumors. Here’s Why

This is a sad story. A leaker identified on Twitter as @analyst941 says they were shut down by Apple. If their story is true, analyst941 was fed information by their sister, an Apple employee, who the company identified in a sting operation involving false information. In a farewell post, analyst941 said their sister was fired and that both she and they face legal action by Apple.

The leaker's farewell message

Apple hasn’t confirmed the story, but the accuracy of analyst941’s previous leaks makes it credible that they had an insider source. Apple’s sting operation also conforms to typical corporate anti-leak policy; in the security world, such an operation is called a canary trap. (Many years ago, a leaker told TidBITS editor Glenn Fleishman that Apple has long seeded different project code names to uncover leaks.) Find the general area of the leaks, feed different people uniquely trackable information, and then fire, sue, and—if the leak constitutes a crime—report those responsible to the authorities.

There’s nothing good about how this situation appears to have unwound, which exemplifies why TidBITS doesn’t cover rumors. In the technology field, outside of a whistleblower revealing illegal behavior, lies about a company’s products or services (particularly around data security), or activities that could endanger the public, leaks of confidential corporate information generally cause everyone to suffer—or at least look bad.

  • Leakers break social and legal contracts with their employers, usually from a desire to seem important, though financial reward can also be a motive. Neither is positive, and the repercussions of being discovered can be life-changing. These people want to have their cake and eat it, too: they want to keep their job and show off by releasing secrets, such as in the case of Jack Teixeira, who allegedly posted confidential Pentagon documents to a Discord server.
  • Companies come off as heavy-handed for running sting operations against employees and resorting to harsh penalties. But they have little choice given that revealing corporate secrets could materially hurt both the company and, by direct extension, its employees and shareholders. For example, Apple could see billions in lost or deferred iPhone revenue if buyers delay purchases in anticipation of rumored features.
  • Publishers profit from this illicitly gathered material and encourage potential leakers with the promise of fame. Some even pay for information, adding a financial incentive. Creating a market for stolen secrets is responsible in part for generating a lack of trust between employers and employees, which encourages burdensome employment contracts and excessive employee surveillance. I never want TidBITS to benefit from the misfortunes of others. I write based on information that comes from reliable sources underpinned by analysis, publicly accessible documents, and other sorts of verifiable disclosures that aren’t leaks and don’t seem to harm individuals or our community.
  • Consumers provide the paying (at least with their eyeballs) audience for this material, thus implicitly rewarding publishers and leakers alike. Why? The attraction of learning information that companies want to keep secret is almost salacious—how different is hearing that iOS 17 might offer options for alternate app stores from following rumors of <insert celebrity name here> cheating on their spouse? Yes, there can sometimes be utility in learning pre-release details, but is illicitly obtained information worth the cost?

Getting on my high horse is unlikely to make much difference in the tech media landscape. But I feel that shining a light on the corrosive nature of trafficking in leaks is worthwhile if doing so can even slightly reduce their supply and demand.

Adam Engst 9 comments

Sports and Bugs in tvOS 16.5, macOS 13.4 Ventura, iOS 16.5, iPadOS 16.5, watchOS 9.5, and HomePod Software 16.5

Baseball and soccer fans, take note! In the just-released tvOS 16.5, Apple has added multiview for the Apple TV 4K, allowing fans to watch up to four simultaneous streams, including Major League Soccer matches, “Friday Night Baseball” games, and select MLS and MLB studio shows. Apple says:

With this entirely customizable new multiview experience in the Apple TV app on Apple TV 4K, users can see the available live games displayed at the bottom of their screen, choose the ones they want to watch, and toggle between multiple layout options. Fans can also choose to display one match more prominently, or watch two to four matches in a split-screen view. Users can also control audio preferences, including the home radio feed for MLS Season Pass, and home and away radio for “Friday Night Baseball.” If a user wants to stop watching in multiview, they can quickly switch to full screen with one click.

tvOS 16.5 Multiview

There’s more for those who follow sports. With macOS 13.4 Ventura, iOS 16.5, and iPadOS 16.5, Apple News offers a dedicated Sports section to provide easy access to stories, scores, standings, and more. It claims to be specific to the teams and leagues you follow, but when I told it that I was only interested in running, it still insisted on showing me Top Stories about other sports. The pop-up menu in the upper-right corner lets you switch to a sport-specific view. Also, My Sports score and schedule cards in Apple News take you directly to game pages where you can find additional details about specific games.

Sports in Apple News

I’ll continue pining quietly for coverage of Diamond League track meets and other exciting running events while looking at the remaining updates in this batch of Apple operating system releases.

macOS 13.4 Ventura

On the Mac side, macOS 13.4 fixes a bug that caused Screen Time settings to reset or fail to sync across devices, resolves a situation where Auto Unlock with Apple Watch fails to log you into your Mac, addresses an issue that caused Bluetooth keyboards to connect to the Mac slowly after restarting, and fixes a VoiceOver problem with navigating to landmarks on Web pages.

I haven’t experienced the Auto Unlock with Apple Watch problems, but I’ve become utterly addicted to the feature and evangelize it whenever possible, so it’s good to hear that Apple is addressing problems there.

iOS 16.5 and iPadOS 16.5

iOS 16.5 and iPadOS 16.5 both address an issue where Spotlight may become unresponsive and participate in the Screen Time fix.

iOS 16.5 also includes a new Pride Celebration wallpaper for the Lock Screen and jumpstarts Podcasts in CarPlay to ensure that it loads content.

watchOS 9.5

Apple’s release notes for watchOS 9.5 are unsatisfying. Although they claim that “watchOS 9.5 includes new features, improvements, and bug fixes,” the only thing Apple describes is a new Pride Celebration watch face. If you love it, there’s a matching Pride Edition Sport Band.

Pride Celebration wallpaper and watch face and Pride Edition Sport Band

HomePod Software 16.5

Even more terse are the release notes for HomePod Software 16.5, which fall back on “This update includes performance and stability improvements.” And electrons. So many electrons.

Security Notes Explain Rapid Security Response Changes

Each of the operating system updates comes with a slew of fixes for security vulnerabilities:

Most notable among the security notes are descriptions of three WebKit vulnerabilities that Apple says are being actively exploited, two of which were addressed by the first Rapid Security Response updates (see “What Are Rapid Security Responses and Why Are They Important?” 2 May 2023). One was the usual “Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution,” but the other was a more interesting “Processing web content may disclose sensitive information.” Both were credited to an anonymous researcher, but don’t you want to know the story behind them? Maybe Apple does too.

Now we know why Apple didn’t publish any release notes for the Rapid Security Responses. The vulnerabilities addressed also existed in tvOS 16, watchOS 9, and the older iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 (see “iOS 15.7.6 and iPadOS 15.7.6 Incorporate Rapid Security Response Fixes,” 18 May 2023). Apple never discusses security vulnerabilities until all the updates for those vulnerabilities are available.

Remember how I timed the installation of the Rapid Security Responses to see how much downtime they would entail? My M1 MacBook Air and iPhone 14 Pro both took about 4 minutes before they were usable again. In contrast, installing the 1.59 GB macOS 13.4 update on the MacBook Air took 20 minutes, and updating the iPhone 14 Pro to iOS 16.5 took 29 minutes. I lost track of how long my 10.5-inch iPad Pro took and couldn’t spare the time away from writing to update my 27-inch iMac. I remain a fan of Rapid Security Responses and encourage you to install any future ones immediately.

Since only two of the three zero-day WebKit vulnerabilities were addressed by the Rapid Security Responses, I encourage you to install all of these updates soon. The impact of the third WebKit vulnerability is “A remote attacker may be able to break out of Web Content sandbox.” That sounds bad, and the fact that one of the security researchers reporting it works for Amnesty International’s Security Lab suggests that it may be exploited by the likes of the Pegasus spyware.


Safari 16.5 Adam Engst No comments

Safari 16.5

Apple has released Safari 16.5 for macOS 12 Monterey and macOS 11 Big Sur with fixes for five WebKit vulnerabilities, three of which are actively being exploited in the wild (for more details on these fixes in Apple’s current operating systems, see “Sports and Bugs in tvOS 16.5, macOS 13.4 Ventura, iOS 16.5, iPadOS 16.5, watchOS 9.5, and HomePod Software 16.5,” 18 May 2023). We recommend updating right away. You can download Safari 16.5 only via Software Update. (Free, release notes, macOS 11+)

Fantastical 3.7.13 Agen Schmitz No comments

Fantastical 3.7.13

Flexibits has issued Fantastical 3.7.13, adding support for finding events and tasks in Shortcuts. The calendar app also enables you to include a conference call when configuring a meeting proposal; adds Hopin Session to the list of the supported conferences; improves the performance of the list, month, and quarter views; addresses a problem with resizing all-day events in month view; resolves an issue editing recurring events in time zones that no longer have daylight saving time; fixes a bug that caused declined proposals to remain in your calendar; and resolves an issue that prevented some users from being able to make changes to their calendar sets. ($56.99 annual subscription from Flexibits and the Mac App Store, free update, 69.1 MB, release notes, macOS 11+)

Default Folder X 5.7.7 Agen Schmitz No comments

Default Folder X 5.7.7

St. Clair Software has issued Default Folder X 5.7.7, a maintenance release with improvements and bug fixes for the Open/Save dialog utility. The update ensures the Finder-click feature works with beta versions of the ForkLift 4 dual-pane file manager, fixes a bug that could cause a hang when opening and saving files in Brave, corrects a problem that could result in the Setapp version of Default Folder X incorrectly handling alerts and popups, updates the Option-Up/Down arrow keyboard shortcuts to work correctly when folders in the Recent Folders history have been moved or deleted, resolves an issue with the Finder drawer hiding itself in the Setapp version when dragging files, and matches the bezel color to the file dialog color in macOS 10.13 High Sierra and 10.14 Mojave. ($34.95 new, TidBITS members save $10 on new copies and $5 on upgrades, in Setapp, 13.7 MB, release notes, macOS 10.13+)

PopChar X 9.5 Agen Schmitz No comments

PopChar X 9.5

Ergonis Software has released PopChar X 9.5, which now provides full support for macOS 13 Ventura. The character discovery and font exploration utility also makes it easier to fix missing permissions with improved linking into macOS System Settings, increases the minimum system requirements to macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and brings unspecified performance and stability improvements. ($29.99 new with a 25% discount for TidBITS members, free update, 5.2 MB, release notes, macOS 10.13+)

BusyCal 2023.2.2 Agen Schmitz No comments

BusyCal 2023.2.2

BusyMac has issued BusyCal 2023.2.2, bringing improvements for push sync to Exchange and Office 365 accounts. The calendar app adds support for confidential events on NextCloud, adds a Propose New Time option for meeting invites received on Google Calendar, allows sticky notes to take on the color of their calendar, improves Google Meet integration for Google accounts, lets you set a specific browser to use when opening conference call links, and allows tags to be assigned to individual occurrences of a recurring event. ($49.99 new from BusyMac or the Mac App Store, free update, in Setapp, 54.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

Parallels Desktop 18.3 Agen Schmitz No comments

Parallels Desktop 18.3

Parallels has issued version 18.3 of its Parallels Desktop for Mac virtualization software with improvements and stability updates. The release enables Shared folders by default on new macOS virtual machines (macOS 13 Ventura only), fixes an issue of a grey box randomly appearing when using Coherence view mode with Windows 11, resolves abnormally slow network upload speeds in Windows 11 on M-series Macs, adds support for recent Linux distribution updates (Ubuntu 23.04, Fedora 38, and Kali Linux 2023.1), and enables you to use the command line interface tool prlctl to perform a variety of operations (including changing the network adapter type, virtual RAM/CPU parameters, and more). ($99.99 for Standard Edition, $119.99 annual subscription for Pro Edition, $149.99 annual subscription for Business Edition, free updates, release notes, macOS 10.14.6+)

Microsoft Office for Mac 16.73 Agen Schmitz No comments

Microsoft Office for Mac 16.73

Focusing on updates to Outlook, Microsoft has released version 16.73 of Office for Mac. The suite’s email and contact management app introduces Outlook Profiles for an improved multi-account experience, adds support for aliases, and enables the total number of items in a folder to be seen by right-clicking the folder name. Outlook also resolves a crash that occurred when setting calendar sharing permissions, fixes a bug with applying the default sensitivity label to mail and calendar items, addresses an issue that prevented events more than one year in the future from appearing in the calendar, and fixes an authentication issue with IMAP and iCloud accounts. Security updates for Excel and the Office Suite address vulnerabilities. ($149.99 for a one-time purchase, $99.99/$69.99 annual subscription options, free update through Microsoft AutoUpdate, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

Pixelmator Pro 3.3.3 Agen Schmitz No comments

Pixelmator Pro 3.3.3

The Pixelmator Team has issued Pixelmator Pro 3.3.3, adding support for the just-released Photomator for Mac photo editor. (Previously available only for iOS, Photomator includes an extensive collection of color adjustments, support for over 600 RAW image formats, Repair and Clone tools, and batch editing features.) You can now open Photomator documents in Pixelmator Pro with all nondestructive edits like color adjustments, crops, masks, and more. And because both Photomator and Pixelmator Pro integrate with Apple’s Photos, changes made in Photomator instantly sync to the photo browser in Pixelmator Pro and the Pixelmator Pro extension in Photos. Pixelmator Pro also optimizes color adjustments to work even faster and improves color adjustment layers to better handle dynamic range in images. ($49.99 new from Pixelmator and the Mac App Store, free update, 572 MB, release notes, macOS 11+)

Affinity Designer, Photo, and Publisher 2.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

Affinity Designer, Photo, and Publisher 2.1

Serif has updated Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, and Affinity Publisher to version 2.1 with hundreds of improvements and bug fixes across all platforms (including the iPadOS editions of Designer, Photo, and Publisher). All three apps now enable you to set dashed lines to be balanced (automatically rescaling the pattern for nice corners), allow for more complex dashed line patterns, add keyboard shortcuts to easily change the blend mode of the current layer(s), bring many little improvements to editing and managing guides, and add Close All to the File menu.

Also, Affinity Designer receives a new Vector Flood Fill Tool and adds the perspective and mesh warp live filters from Affinity Photo into the Pixel Persona. Affinity Photo receives Crop Tool improvements and gains an option to auto-clean the brush after every stroke. And Affinity Publisher now supports running headers. (Affinity Designer, $69.99 new, 840.3 MB; Affinity Photo, $69.99, 944.4 MB; Affinity Publisher, $69.99, 830.3 MB; all three are available separately or together for $164.99 from Serif and are also available individually from the Mac App Store; free updates, release notes, macOS 10.15+)


Adam Engst 7 comments

Apple to Expand Accessibility Options in 2023

From Apple Newsroom:

Apple today previewed software features for cognitive, vision, hearing, and mobility accessibility, along with innovative tools for individuals who are nonspeaking or at risk of losing their ability to speak. These updates draw on advances in hardware and software, include on-device machine learning to ensure user privacy, and expand on Apple’s long-standing commitment to making products for everyone.

It’s well worth reading Apple’s press release for all the details (and see Shelly Brisbin’s commentary on Six Colors), but the feature I’m most interested to see is Assistive Access, which “distills experiences across the Camera, Photos, Music, Calls, and Messages apps on iPhone to their essential features in order to lighten their cognitive load for users.” Along with helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I could see these alternative interfaces as a boon for older people (and others) with cognitive impairments. Possibly also for the very young, but I’m not a fan of giving toddlers digital devices.

Apple also says that Made for iPhone hearing devices will be able to be paired with select M1-based Macs and all M2-based Macs, which is good news for hearing aid users, and Voice Control will add phonetic suggestions so users can choose the desired word from those that sound similar, like “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” With luck, Apple will extend this and other text editing features to the standard dictation capabilities.