Apple Weighs Letting Users Switch Default iPhone Apps to Rivals

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is considering giving rival apps more prominence on iPhones and iPads and opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services after criticism the company provides an unfair advantage to its in-house products.

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

That would be fantastic news! If Apple can find a way to make a cheaper version of the HomePod that can compete more with the lower-end speakers on the market and also allow them to independently play from a music service other than Apple Music, you’d see sales take off. We’re not going to see HomePod become a market leader by any stretch, but a lot of Apple users who are on the fence between a Sonos One and a HomePod might choose differently than they do today.

Doesn’t fix the fact that Siri on the HomePod is no match for the Assistant/Alexa setup on the Sonos One, but some folks are okay with that.

As far as iOS defaults go, I think that’s a great start. Allow users to choose defaults for a few things like mail, web, mapping, messaging and music would be a huge win for users. Still a rumor at this point.

Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

The New York Times:

EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

One easy solution on the phone maker side would be new granular location permission levels. For example, most apps just need to know what city you’re in to offer weather, restaurant or event info. The default could report back a fuzzy location. Other than mapping apps, not many iOS apps really need my precise coordinates.

Google Home & Pixel XL

About 6 months ago, Google announced a slew of consumer-grade products geared squarely at Apple and Amazon. At the event, they presented the Home, the Pixel, and Google WiFi and they all caught my eye for different reasons. I’m intrigued by the concept of mesh networking rather than throwing a router in one corner of […]

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The slow breakup

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend in the personal technology space. A pretty big shift has occurred – with Apple slowly becoming less reliable, less intuitive, and less interesting (to me) and Google has slowly become better designed, more thoughtful, and better at addressing consumer’s needs. The race between Apple and […]

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WWDC 2016 Wishlist

Google I/O has come and gone, so now it’s time for Apple to have their annual developer conference.  I feel like most of the areas for innovation isn’t at the OS level anymore, it’s with services and apps as part of the OS. Unfortunately for Apple that isn’t really their strong suit. With that in […]

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Can Apple Music be fixed?

Apple Music is slowly being exposed as a bit of a shitshow under the covers. I’ve been fortunate not to have run into many of the issues folks are bringing up, but I definitely feel the pain of a poorly executed user experience, especially on the desktop. The bad news is that a lot of […]

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Switching to the iPhone

Joe Casabona writes about 2 months with an iPhone:

But as I use the iPhone more and see how well it actually works, it’s clear that Android is great for some things. But needs to mature in other aspects. And I think Google knows that too. The change in treatment of Android over the last few years has been noticeable. It’s like Google said, “GUYS. We need to fix this mess.”

 

Good take on the good and the bad of using an iPhone 6 after spending years on the Android side. Seems like most articles these days are Apple folks who are fed up and switching to Android, so it’s interesting to see the other side of the coin from time to time. While we all have our complaints about the Apple world, the integrated nature of Apple products can be a huge peace-of-mind boost if you buy in.

Heck, even I’m tempted to switch to Android sometimes – the new Moto X looks particularly outstanding. But when I really think about it, I feel like iOS is still the place for me. Who knows, I may still switch back to Android one day. But at this point, I feel like the perfect setup is Apple hardware backed with Google services.

Hackers can remotely steal fingerprints from Android phones

ZDNet, reporting on how Hackers can remotely steal fingerprints from Android phones:

The threat is for now confined mostly to Android devices that have fingerprint sensors, such as Samsung, Huawei, and HTC devices, which by volume remains low compared to iPhone shipments. But down the line by 2019, where it’s believed that at least half of all smartphone shipments will have a fingerprint sensor, the threat deepens.

and:

The researchers did not comment on which vendor is more secure than others. But, Zhang noted that Apple’s iPhone, which pioneered the modern fingerprint sensor, is “quite secure,” as it encrypts fingerprint data from the scanner.

The scary thing is that this isn’t exactly the sort of password you can change if things go wrong.

It Just Works

Marco Arment wrote about Apple losing the ‘functional high ground’ earlier this year, and it was met with tons of discussion – blog posts, podcasts, twitter battles and more. The part that hit me was the final paragraph: I fear that Apple’s leadership doesn’t realize quite how badly and deeply their software flaws have damaged […]

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