The Zero-Day Edition Friday, September 2, 2016

Apple Patches Zero-day Vulnerabilities In Safari And OS X, by Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch

The apparently government-sponsored hackery aimed at activist Ahmed Mansoor last week prompted a quick response from Apple, with a patch for iOS arriving the day of the news. Turns out the three (!) zero-day exploits deployed against Mansoor kind of worked against Safari and OS X, as well.

Apple issued a patch today to fix that, but you’ll need Yosemite or El Capitan to receive protection from these exploits. Improved input sanitization (sic) and improved memory handling fix the holes in OS X — and presumably these changes will be baked into Sierra (where, incidentally, the “macOS” naming convention starts as well). Safari gets an update to 9.1.3 and some improved memory handling of its own.

Quality, Not Quantity

Review Guidelines Added For Subscriptions, Stickers, And SiriKit, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The availability of subscriptions for apps that are ‘continually updated’ provides additional clarity to an issue that was hotly debated and discussed among developers since subscriptions were announced shortly before WWDC.

Apple’s New Rule Will Force Google, Amazon, And Others To Shorten Their App Names, by Joon Ian Wong, Keith Collins, Quartz

The company today (Sept. 1) updated its App Store guidelines to limit the length of an app’s name to 50 characters. Apps that break the rule will be booted from the store if developers don’t make changes within 30 days of being contacted by Apple.

Apple Is Going To Remove Abandoned Apps From The App Store, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

It’s cleaning time in the App Store. Apple sent an email to its developer community indicating that there will be some upcoming changes in the App Store. If an app no longer works or is outdated, it’s going to get removed from the App Store. And it’s about time.

Coming Soon

Apple Shows Off The First Siri-powered Apps Arriving In iOS 10, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Today, Apple is kicking off a series of blog posts that will introduce the forthcoming Siri-powered applications, and explain how they work.

This is something unusual for the company, which normally makes developer-related announcements at WWDC, then pushes its new mobile OS out the door as timed with its iPhone event in the fall.

But perhaps a little end user education is in order this time around? Or maybe, the popular voice computing platform, Amazon Alexa, is looking like a bit of a threat these days.

Get Ready For New Beats (Wireless?) Headphones At The iPhone Event, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

That’s what we call a teeny tiny fuckup. Beats sent a press release and other French media outlets saying that they should expect new Beats products on September 7 during Apple’s press conference. There was also a screenshot of the official Apple media invite so that it was 100% clear for everyone that Beats was talking about Apple’s event.

Apple Activates Official Twitter Account Ahead Of Sept. 7 Event, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple's profile photo has been updated to display a simple black Apple logo, while the larger header photo contains teaser art created for the upcoming Sept. 7 media event. Judging by the cover graphic, @Apple's first post might be a live-tweet from next week's keynote.

Moving Money

Tim Cook Says Apple Could Send Cash Back To U.S. Next Year, by Paul Hannon and Sam Schechner, Wall Street Journal

“We provisioned several billion dollars for the U.S. for payment as soon as we repatriate it, and right now I would forecast that repatriation to occur next year,” Mr. Cook said in the interview.

An Apple spokeswoman said that Mr. Cook was referring to his optimism that the U.S. will change its tax code next year, and that his comments didn’t represent any change to Apple’s position on the question.

Five Things To Know About The EU's Apple Tax Ruling, by Cillian Fleming, Adam Smith Institute

This week, the European Commission ruled that Ireland provided State Aid to Apple through preferential tax rules. Unsurprisingly this has brought corporation tax rules into the spotlight, but there are a number of points about this particular case that many commentators have missed so far. Here are the key points.

How Apple Helped Create Ireland’s Economies, Real And Fantastical, by Adam Davidson, New Yorker

Today, the major players—the U.S., Germany, China, and the U.K.—don’t feel so generous and hopeful. And they get to write the rules. A secure Ireland, one that will be economically healthy for years to come, needs to be built on a “real” economy, one based on strong investment in innovation, manufacturing, and valuable services that other people want to pay for. It needs to be based on things done in Ireland, by people who live in Ireland—who pay Irish taxes.

Outside Cupertino

Apple Dives Deeper Into Austin's Talent Pool, by Lori Hawkins, Austin American-Statesman

Apple Inc., which recently completed its expansive campus in Northwest Austin, has been discreetly building a core engineering team across town, fueling a new wave of growth in Central Texas.

The California-based technology giant is pulling back the curtain on its new engineering center, which sits on a bluff in Southwest Austin, near Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road.

Hunker Down

When I’m Mistakenly Put On An Email Chain, Should I Hit ‘Reply All’ Asking To Be Removed?, by Daniel Victor, New York Times


The Internet Thinks I’m Still Pregnant, by Amy Pittman, New York Times

I hadn’t realized, however, that when I had entered my information into the pregnancy app, the company would then share it with marketing groups targeting new mothers. Although I logged my miscarriage into the app and stopped using it, that change in status apparently wasn’t passed along.

Seven months after my miscarriage, mere weeks before my due date, I came home from work to find a package on my welcome mat. It was a box of baby formula bearing the note: “We may all do it differently, but the joy of parenthood is something we all share.”


One Of The Most Important Crosswords In New York Times History, by Oliver Roeder, Slate

Crossword puzzles are fleeting things. Sure, some get anthologized in books, but most are solved or abandoned in frustration, then piled up with the rest of the morning’s paper, tossed into the recycling bin, and forgotten.

Thursday’s New York Times puzzle will be different.

(Note: There are major crossword spoilers below. If you’d like, go and solve the puzzle before reading the story behind its creation. We’ll be here when you get back.)

On The Falkland Islands, A Traveler’s Quest To See More Types Of Penguins Than Ever, by Andrea Sachs, Washington Post

Most birders aspire to see hundreds — if not thousands — of species in their lifetime. My number is set at 17, and they all belong to the same family: Spheniscidae or, in non-ornithologist parlance, penguins.

Why the fixation on penguins, you might ask. Obviously, they’re cute and silly, waddling around like little Charlie Chaplins. But I also admire their fortitude in the face of such odds as Arctic blizzards and menacing sharks. And I applaud their lifelong commitment to their mates, though I later learned that the females will flirt (and possibly more) for nest-building material. They move me in every which way, from giggles to tears. I am hopelessly hooked.

Bottom of the Page

I do not envy that one person at Apple whose job is to make sure the Bluetooth signals work flawlessly on stage during next week’s demo.


Thanks for reading.