Aaron Tilley reports for The Information:
The change will restrict a feature that apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp used to make voice calls over the internet. Right now, the calling feature in these apps runs in the background even when it’s not in use, ensuring the apps can connect calls faster but also making it possible for them to perform other, unrelated tasks such as collecting data. Now, Apple is restricting that background access so that it can only be used for internet calls. (…)
Apple is making the change in the September rollout of its new mobile operating system, iOS 13. App developers have until April 2020 to comply with the new specifications.
It’s great that Apple is fixing this. However, the real question is: did they know about this when releasing PushKit back in 2014, thus putting user privacy in jeopardy for five years, or was that discovered only recently and planned to be fixed with next major iOS release? This reminds me of a Michael Kwet’s NYT article from June 2019 about iBeacons:
It should not be lost on the public that Apple created the first Bluetooth system of commercial surveillance. Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, recently wagged his finger at the “data-industrial complex.” Unlike other tech giants that monetize surveillance, Apple relies upon hardware sales, he said. But Mr. Cook knew what Apple was creating with iBeacon in 2013. Apple’s own website explains to developers how they can use iBeacon to micro-target consumers in stores.
Kwet’s article is well worth a read, however the author forgets about the bright side of the beacon technology, like navigating the blind in London Underground.
Fortunately, iOS 13 also improves the way it notifies users about app’s usage of Bluetooth.
Back to Tilley’s story. I would like to also point to a Facebook statement provided to The Information in regards of this news (bolds mine):
“The changes to the upcoming iOS releases are not insignificant, but we are in conversations with Apple on how best to address,” the spokesperson said.“ To be clear—we are using the PushKit VoIP API to deliver a world-class, private messaging experience, not for the purpose of collecting data.”
Yeah, right. So why did they try to keep PushKit in the main Facebook app back in 2014? As Tilley writes:
Debate about how app makers use the internet calling feature, which relies on a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, has been simmering for years. After Facebook split off messaging into a standalone Messenger app in 2014, the social media giant tried to keep the technology in its main app. But Apple figured out what Facebook was doing and made it stop, said Phillip Shoemaker, who until 2016 was the head of Apple’s app review team.
Craig Lloyd on iFixit blog:
If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings > Battery, next to Battery Health. The “Service” message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced. The message still shows up when you put in a brand new battery, however. Here’s the bigger problem: our lab tests confirmed that even when you swap in a genuine Apple battery, the phone will still display the “Service” message.
It’s not a bug; it’s a feature Apple wants. Unless an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider authenticates a battery to the phone, that phone will never show its battery health and always report a vague, ominous problem.
The entire narrative of this blog post is that Apple does this on purpose to earn money from replacing the batteries. There is, however, another side of this coin worth considering: safety. Batteries in smartphones can be dangerous - we heard stories about iPhones blowing up, not to mention Samsung Galaxy Note 7 being banned by the airlines. If Apple can guarantee more safety by visiting an authorized service provider and thus I can avoid my iPhone blowing up in my pocket - so be it, I’ll pay more.
iPhone X battery replacement guide on iFixit has a 2 out 3 difficulty points marking this operation as moderate. Out of 43 steps, there are 17 important warnings in red; some of them inform about possible fire and/or explode of the battery. I’m not so sure if replacing the battery on your smartphone is that easy. My favorite one?
Heat the iPhone until the rear case is slightly too hot to comfortably touch. Don’t overheat the iPhone, or you may accidentally ignite the battery.
Good luck with this!
Health/Maps/Safari/Reminders: What’s New in iOS 13
I came across four interesting articles, covering changes in these apps in iOS 13:
Happy discovering new features with these guides!