Your work computer or phone doesn’t belong to you, and you should be careful about what you do on these devices. Your employer can track you and all your activity, and record what you do, and even, perhaps, what you type.
Like many, I tried Apple News+ for one month, then cancelled, because I didn’t see the value in this service. $10 a month seems too much to me to have access to a number of publications that I read only occasionally at best; I simply don’t have the time to read all those magazines. Back when I subscribed to more print publications, I ended up with stacks of them that I tried to “get through” every couple of months.
But Apple keeps trying to interest me in Apple News+, and I don’t blame them. But I do blame them for what they present to tempt me. Case in point: the Apple News app showed me this section today:
At the top of the section is an article about cameras, and this makes sense: I follow a couple of photography channels in the app. But below that, there are four other suggestions, none of which are “based on what I read.” I don’t watch birds, I don’t care much about houses and homes, I have no interest in advertising, and I don’t have diabetes. I don’t know why the algorithm is this broken, but it’s broken.
The Apple News app does show, in its various sections, articles that interest me, mainly because I follow certain publications (The Washington Post, The Guardian, etc.), or because I follow channels, like photography, business, politics, and others. Nevertheless, I regularly block channels that show up in the “for you” sections because they either don’t interest me, or are local channels for areas in other parts of the world.
Add to that the fact that, after scrolling a couple of screens, I see content more than a day old, meaning that there’s really not much to see.
Apple News is mediocre at best. And Apple News+ has a long way to go. I know some people who like Apple News+ because they had previously been using Texture, the magazine service that Apple bought and rolled into their Apple News app. But most people I know who have tried the service gave up for reasons similar to mine. Reports are that Apple News+ is not successful, and notably that publishers aren’t very happy with it. While it’s a good idea, it seems that Apple just doesn’t know how to get it right.
Meanwhile, Flipboard, which I’ve been using for nearly ten years, has offered a new scrolling design option, which can be an improvement on its traditional page flips to get to the next page. I find Flipboard to be an excellent tool, generally providing content I want to see. To be fair, I’ve been using it long enough that it knows what I read, so it’s easier for it to select articles to show me, but I don’t rate articles that I like or not; the only thing I have done is selected topics to follow, and blocked sources I don’t like.
Voice Memos is one of the Catalyst apps that Apple has brought to macOS with the release of Catalina. Catalyst is a framework that allows iPad apps, with some small tweaks, to run on Macs. However, seems that Voice Memos doesn’t work on the Mac, at least to record voice memos. You can listen to voice memos you’ve recorded on iOS devices, but when you press the Record button, nothing happens in the app. Not only does it not record anything, but the timeline doesn’t move.
I had thought that the app might need to be added to the Security & Privacy preferences, in the Privacy tab under Microphone – this is where apps are listed that have requested permission to use a Mac’s microphone – but there’s no way to add it.
Some people have suggested that it works only if you’re not logged into your iCloud account; the app does sync voice memos across your devices via iCloud, if you told it to do so on first launch. I tried it with a test account on one of my Macs, which is not signed into an iCloud account, and it works fine.
Interestingly, if I attempt to make a voice memo on my Mac, with my account that is signed into iCloud, the app creates a file (in ~/Library/Application Support/com.apple.voicememos/Recordings), but that file remains at 0 bytes until I quit the app. That suggests that something is happening to prevent the file from being written correctly (perhaps), due to a problem in the cloud (conjecture).
When I try to record a voice memo, I see the following error message in Console:
Turning off iCloud sync for voice memos (in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud Drive) doesn’t resolve the issue. And if I delete the Recordings folder at the path mentioned above, the app hangs, then quits.
Voice memos are clearly working for most people, but there are also a number of people reporting that it isn’t working. (Here’s a search on Apple’s forum; there are a number of posts in the list from people with the same issue.) I’ve tried adjusting the settings in Audio-MIDI Setup, and they don’t make a difference, and I’ve tried using different inputs, such as my AirPods, or the mixer I use for podcasts. It seems that iCloud is the variable here, though some people who are signed into iCloud can record using the app. This wouldn’t be the first case of iCloud corruption I’ve seen, especially since iOS 13 was released.
Your iPhone or iPad comes with 36 default apps, including Mail, Safari, and Messages. You may want to use other apps for email, for browsing, and for messaging, in part to enhance your security and privacy. While you can’t set other apps to replace the defaults, as you can on macOS, you can switch. We explain how.
A child spends a fortune on in-app purchases, the CIA has been running a fake company providing encryption services, and beware of public lockers. We then take a deep dive into blockchain technology and cryptocurrency; if you’ve been wondering what Bitcoin is, we explain (almost) everything.
One of the most pernicious activities that Facebook does is to track you when you’re not on their website, and even if you’re not logged into Facebook or don’t have a Facebook account. They often do this using cookies that websites deliver to your browser. Facebook has recently provided a way to view and edit “off-Facebook activity,” which the company defines as “activity that businesses and organizations share with us about your interactions, such as visiting their apps or websites.”
The word “apps” above is important. Facebook gets data not just from websites you visit, but also from apps you use, and you have no way to turn that feature off. Facebook then uses this data to serve you ads based on your activity. You can use content blockers or tracker blockers in your web browser to prevent this tracking, but they have no effect on apps.
You can “disconnect” this activity, but this won’t change the number of ads you see; ads will just not be “personalized” as before.
On this week’s episode, we’re joined by Andrius Gailiunas of Pixelmator to talk about machine learning and how it powers some of the features in Pixelmator Pro. In particular, we’re impressed with ML Super Resolution, a way to enlarge photos beyond their original dimensions while retaining quality and crispness.
Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The PhotoActive on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.
Apple updates everything, the Ring doorbell has trackers in its app, and the Shlayer malware has infected lots of Macs. We then discussed a number of issues where free services you use monetize data collected about you and your activities.
Computer security is constantly evolving, as new issues and vulnerabilities are discovered, as new software and devices are deployed, and as hackers figure out new ways to get around barriers.
Some security and privacy threats change over time. Ten years ago, we didn’t have to worry much about Internet of things (IoT) devices or data breaches, let alone hardware and even CPU architecture vulnerabilities like Spectre and Meltdown; we continued to see the emergence of similar discoveries and a continuance of these trends throughout 2019.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the past decade is that some Mac malware continues to disguise itself as Flash Player updates, even though Adobe is abandoning Flash at the end of 2020. Perhaps the fake-Flash malware trend will finally die toward the end of this year; time will tell.
Here is an overview of the main issues that affected Apple products and software in 2019: