The Red-Dots Edition Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How Tiny Red Dots Took Over Your Life, by John Herrman, New York Times

These companies know better than anyone that dots are a problem, but they also know that dots work. Late last year, a red badge burbled to the surface next to millions of iPhone users’ Settings apps. It looked as though it might be an update, but it turned out to be a demand: Finish adding your credit card to Apple Pay, or the dot stays put. Apple might as well have said: Give us your credit card number, or we will annoy you until you do.

The lack of consensus within the mounting resistance to Big Tech can also be found within the perimeter of the dot. After all, it’s where the most dangerous conflations take place: of what we need, and what we’re told we need; of what purpose our software serves to us, and us to it; of dismissal with fulfillment. The dot is where ill-gotten attention is laundered into legitimate-seeming engagement. On this, our most influential tech companies seem to agree. Maybe our self-appointed saviors can, too.

Apple Confirms It Uses Google's Cloud For iCloud, by Jordan Novet, CNBC

Apple periodically publishes new versions of a PDF called the iOS Security Guide. For years the document contained language indicating that iCloud services were relying on remote data storage systems from Amazon Web Services, as well as Microsoft's Azure. But in the latest version, the Microsoft Azure reference is gone, and in its place is Google Cloud Platform.

Your Apple iCloud Data Is Now Stored On Google Servers—surprised?, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

In the document quoted above, Apple takes care to assure users that the data is encrypted and stored without any user-identifying information. So even though the data is hosted by Google, it is probably not accessible or actionable in any useful way by Google. Further, Google has a responsibility and every incentive to respect the data of its enterprise customers—especially with a deal like this, which may have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In any case, this shift is not about users’ data privacy; it’s about Apple getting a better deal and reducing reliance on AWS.

When Profits Threaten Privacy – 5 Things You Need To Know About Apple In China, by Amnesty International

Given that many provisions of Chinese law offer inadequate protection to privacy, freedom of expression and other rights, simply checking whether government information requests comply with Chinese law doesn’t address whether complying with the request might contribute to human rights violations. Apple hasn’t confirmed whether or how it will assess whether government information requests might violate users’ human rights. We won't really know how Apple will respond until it's put to the test, and unfortunately that’s probably just a matter of time.

As for “backdoors”, or technical measures that would allow law enforcement or other government agencies to access unencrypted user data without having to ask for it, Apple’s commitment to prevent their use is admirable. But the commitment is meaningless if law enforcement can get the companies to decrypt user information simply by saying that it is for a criminal investigation.

Apple Is Launching Medical Clinics To Deliver The 'World's Best Health Care Experience' To Its Employees, by Christina Farr, CNBC

Apple is launching a group of health clinics called AC Wellness for its own employees and their families this spring, according to several sources familiar with the company's plans.

The company quietly published a website,, with more details about its initiative and a careers page listing jobs including primary care doctor, exercise coach, and care navigator, as well as a phlebotomist to administer lab tests on-site.


New Apple 'Switch To iPhone' Ads Promote Support & Environmental Footprint, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple on Monday debuted four new "Switch to iPhone" ads, as well as another brief how-to guide for the smartphone.

Feedless Takes The News Feed Out Of Social Media, by Simone Stolzoff, Wired

So it’s noteworthy that Feedless is something completely different. It’s an app, but one designed to save us from apps. It blocks the feed from social media websites like Facebook and Twitter on Safari for iOS, leaving just the bare bones of those apps. The goal, Orbuch says, “was to remove the most time-sucking feature of social media and leave all the useful stuff like messaging and events.”


Feedless couldn’t have come at a better time. The app pushes back against phone addiction, without asking anyone to give up their phone (or even their Facebook account). It's Orbush’s attempt to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. How can you extract the good parts of social media without getting lost in a mindless scroll? After all, the problem with phones is often not what you come to them to do. It’s how much time you spend on them after that’s done.

Best Password Manager Apps For iPhone And iPad, by Lory Gil, iMore

Password managers are digital vaults where you can keep all of your important information, like logins, credit card numbers, PINs, and more. You can even create a secure note with secret stuff, like future baby names or the answers to life. If you haven't already invested in a password manager, take a look at our favorites and see if any of them suit your needs.


Interview: Khronos Brings Vulkan Applications To Macs, iPhones, iPads, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

Vulkan is an open standard for 3D graphics developed by the Khronos Group, an industry consortium dedicated to the creation of open standards for the graphics industry.


As part of the Vulkan Portability Initiative, open source tools, runtime libraries, and SDKs enable Vulkan development on macOS and deployment on macOS and iOS. And today the MoltenVK, LunarXchange, and SPIRV-Cross cross-compiler are available in open source. These tools are the result of a collaboration between Valve, LunarG and The Brenwill Workshop.

Bottom of the Page

Do you get anxious when one of the step-counting app reports a step-count that is over 10,000 while another of the step-counting app on the same iPhone reports a step-count below 10,000?

Looks like it's time to go for a walk.


Thanks for reading.