MyAppleMenu - Wed, Oct 14, 2015

Wed, Oct 14, 2015The Radio-Attack Edition

Hackers Can Silently Control Siri From 16 Feet Away, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

A pair of researchers at ANSSI, a French government agency devoted to information security, have shown that they can use radio waves to silently trigger voice commands on any Android phone or iPhone that has Google Now or Siri enabled, if it also has a pair of headphones with a microphone plugged into its jack. Their clever hack uses those headphones’ cord as an antenna, exploiting its wire to convert surreptitious electromagnetic waves into electrical signals that appear to the phone’s operating system to be audio coming from the user’s microphone. Without speaking a word, a hacker could use that radio attack to tell Siri or Google Now to make calls and send texts, dial the hacker’s number to turn the phone into an eavesdropping device, send the phone’s browser to a malware site, or send spam and phishing messages via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy, by Walter Kirn, The Atlantic

I knew we’d bought walnuts at the store that week, and I wanted to add some to my oatmeal. I called to my wife and asked her where she’d put them. She was washing her face in the bathroom, running the faucet, and must not have heard me—she didn’t answer. I found the bag of nuts without her help and stirred a handful into my bowl. My phone was charging on the counter. Bored, I picked it up to check the app that wirelessly grabs data from the fitness band I’d started wearing a month earlier. I saw that I’d slept for almost eight hours the night before but had gotten a mere two hours of “deep sleep.” I saw that I’d reached exactly 30 percent of my day’s goal of 13,000 steps. And then I noticed a message in a small window reserved for miscellaneous health tips. “Walnuts,” it read. It told me to eat more walnuts.

It was probably a coincidence, a fluke. Still, it caused me to glance down at my wristband and then at my phone, a brand-new model with many unknown, untested capabilities. Had my phone picked up my words through its mic and somehow relayed them to my wristband, which then signaled the app?

For The Kids

How Autism Apps Help Kids On The Spectrum, by Dina Roth Port, MedicalXpress

While technology has always held promise as a therapeutic tool, the customization and personalization of the latest apps are helping children with autism learn to communicate, socialize and master routines in new ways.

App Uses Kids’ Obsession With Phones To Teach Them Coding, by Liz Stinson, Wired

For many youngsters, a smartphone is like magic. “I realized that it’s hard to deconstruct how much technology is hidden inside the supercomputers we all have in our hands,” Gutierrez says. And that’s a problem. The way Gutierrez’s sees it, it’s not enough to know how to play that race car game; kids should understand how the gyroscope in the phone makes playing that game possible. Gutierrez wanted to turn his smartphone inside out and expose its guts. So he created an app.


NetNewsWire Picks Up iPad Support, Adds New Gestures And Sharing Options, by Joseph Keller, iMore

While version 4.0.1 might sound like a minor update for NetNewsWire for iPhone, it brings with it a fairly major new feature. NetNewsWire, the venerable RSS application that made its return to both iOS and Mac last month, is now a universal application, and is available for iPad, and includes support for iOS 9's iPad multitasking.

Mosband Reminds You To Do Those Thoughtful Little Things, by Sandy Stachowiak, AppAdvice

A new app seeks to help remind you to do something nice for your wife, girlfriend, or partner on a regular basis and provides suggestions. It’s called Mosband and derives its name from “model husband.”

Turns Out: Apple Offers Prorated AppleCare Refunds, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

I had no idea that the extended-warranty plans, AppleCare and AppleCare+, could be refunded on a pro-rata basis for the unused remaining portion, despite ostensibly being a veteran reporter of things Apple. This wouldn’t change any actions I’ve taken nor my recommendations. But it does shift some of the discussion around iPhone installment plans, which I just wrote about, describing swapping my phone from AT&T to the Apple iPhone Upgrade plan.


Pragmatic App Pricing, by Marco Arment

With those challenges on the horizon, this is the worst time for the indie-podcast world to put up any unnecessary barriers. I don’t know if Overcast stands a chance of preventing the Facebookization of podcasting, but I know I’m increasing the odds if my app is free without restrictions. As long as I can make money some other way, I’m fine.

The Web Authentication Arms Race – A Tale Of Two Security Experts, by SLaks.Blog

Web authentication systems have evolved over the past ten years to counter a growing variety of threats. This post will present a fictional arms race between a web application developer and an attacker, showing how different threats can be countered with the latest security technologies.


The Background Data And Battery Usage Of Facebook’s iOS App, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

I wonder if Apple should consider additional battery controls to take action against shady practices like invisible background audio. What Facebook is doing shows a deep lack of respect for iOS users. I continue to recommend using Safari instead.

Apple Uses Good Design To Marginalize Industries, by Above Avalon

As people decipher the driving factors behind what makes a product like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad so successful, it is crucial to recognize how a product's design has the potential not just to alter industries, but go so far as to marginalize them.

Still Buggy

Real story: This morning, just before I left for work, I wanted to download an album from Apple Music onto my iPhone for offline listening. Totally spur of the moment thing. And it took me only three tries and 20 minutes. (The first two times, if you must know, the album did not appear at all in the "My Music" tab. Even though I watched with my own two eyes the entire song-by-song downloading progress in the Downloads sheet.)


Thanks for reading.