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How Apple is changing MDM in iOS 15

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One of the biggest enterprise additions to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 is a significant change to Apple’s MDM (mobile device management) protocol. Earlier MDM changes primarily focused on adding new management, security, or deployment features, extending what MDM could enforce. Declarative management, introduced at the company’s developer conference in June, is the first change that modifies the protocol itself.

While declarative management will make its debut with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple said it will also be supported in macOS Monterey, though not right away.

Apple MDM today

Before we get to what declarative management is, let’s take a a brief recap of Apple’s MDM protocol as it has previously been implemented.

Apple MDM encompasses a handful of different components: configuration and provisioning profiles, the MDM service, and various MDM commands.

10 top file-sharing services: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more

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Back in the pre-cloud days, sharing files involved using file transfer protocol applications or else copying files to a disc and then mailing it or walking it over to a colleague (affectionately known as ‘sneakernet’). Emails could also be sent (and many people still use email as their main “file-sharing” option), but size limits on attachments and security concerns discouraged this practice.

Today’s world of file sharing offers nearly endless options. Giants like Dropbox, Box, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as smaller companies like MediaFire and Tresorit, all offer online cloud storage options that include file sharing, synchronization across multiple devices, and collaboration features. Once you have uploaded a file to one of these services, file-sharing is as easy as clicking a “share” button and then sending the link to a colleague via email. While most offer desktop and mobile applications, users can also upload, store, sync, and share files via a web browser.

The services we’ve chosen are listed here in alphabetical order and cover a range of options, from basic services for consumers to enterprise-level services. This is not an exhaustive list of all services, but rather a sampling of the big players and some lesser-known vendors.

To check file transfer times for each, we uploaded a 245MB ZIP file using an internet connection with an average upload speed of 86 megabits/second. (See “How we tested.”)

Box

file sharing apps box IDG

(Click any image in this story to enlarge it.)

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Box without mentioning Dropbox (and vice versa), as the two are frequently pitted against each other. Box has always been geared toward businesses and enterprises, while Dropbox used to be largely focused on consumers and SMBs. But both services now include enterprise collaboration features and cloud content management via integrations with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365/Office 365, and many others, along with enterprise-grade security and management options.

There is a free plan for individudals that lets you kick the tires — it offers 10GB of storage, a 250MB file upload limit, and the ability to share these files with limited permissions. The file upload size limit is a bit strict if you are trying to share video files, but the 10GB storage limit is still pretty generous. Additionally, all of Box’s business plans offer a 14-day free trial.

Apple needs to act against fake app-privacy promises

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Apple will need to become more aggressive in how it polices the privacy promises developers make when selling apps in the App Store. What can enterprise users do to protect themselves and their users in the meantime?

What’s the problem?

Some developers continue to abuse the spirit of Apple’s App Store Privacy rules. This extends to posting misleading information on App Privacy Labels, along with outright violation of promises not to track devices. Some developers continue to ignore do-not-track requests to exfiltrate device-tracking information.

The Washington Post, which recently launched its own digital ads network, has identified multiple instances in which rogue App Store apps fail to maintain a promise of user privacy.

When a user says they don’t want an app to track them, the app should respect that request. But the report cites numerous cases in which the apps continue to harvest the same information, no matter what the user requests. This data may be sold to third-party data tracking firms, or used to provide targeted advertising, the report says. What it doesn’t say is that failure to respect user wishes is a betrayal of trust.

What might help?

The Post has spoken to ex-iCloud engineer, Johnny Lin, who argues that: “When it comes to stopping third-party trackers, App Tracking Transparency is a dud. Worse, giving users the option to tap an ‘Ask App Not To Track’ button may even give users a false sense of privacy.”

That’s a harsh criticism and it seems appropriate to observe that Lin has an interest here. His company develops Lockdown, which blocks “tracing, ads and badware” in all apps, not just Safari. Perhaps Apple should adopt the same approach. But given the months of pushback the company faced when it introduced App Tracking Transparency, at Apple’s scale achieving this will take time. Surveillance capitalism has a lot of money to spend opposing such plans; as it stands users, particularly enterprise users, should take steps to protect themselves.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Jamf survey: Employees will quit for platform choice

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If your employees want to use iPhones and Macs, you really should let them. That’s the main message today coming from a Vanson Bourne survey commissioned by Jamf.

Employee choice remains an HR issue

The international survey asked 2,000 employees and 500 IT decision-makers how they felt about employee choice and the future of work. It found that as many as nine in 10 employees (89%) would take a pay cut to use their choice of device – and suggests that for many, the desire to have that choice may prompt them to seek work elsewhere.

Staff retention post-pandemic is critical. Microsoft recently warned that more than 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs. In this context, anything that makes it easier to recruit or keep good people should be a key consideration. The Vanson Bourne data suggests choice schemes may help.

The survey also found 70% of respondents said they would be more likely to join a company given technology choice, while 75% are more likely to stay with a company that offers such choice.

An earlier Dice 2021 report confirmed these trends.

Apple grows in the enterprise

Apple’s bid for enterprise IT remains solid, as when given that choice, 62% of employees would opt for Apple, the research said. This likely reflects the company’s consistently high customer-satisfaction ratings.

“Employee experience is impacted by the technology they use more than ever before,” said Jamf CEO Dean Hager. “Giving employees the choice of what technology they work on has incredible value, not only to workers, but to their organizations as well. Establishing a choice program with the right technology partners can help employers attract and retain talent, while boosting employee creativity and productivity.”

The survey considered the platform experiences of Apple and non-Apple devices. It claims Apple users had a better experience with their chosen platform, reporting improvements in productivity (87%), self-sufficiency (87%), and creativity (86%) when using them. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents said that being forced to use a device that they did not choose would negatively impact their perception of the organization.

These trends seem to have caused Apple to become more aggressive in its bid for business from within the enterprise.

Reliable tech for remote teams

Looking to 2022, 62% of employees now expect to work from home and from the office, and just under half (47%) expect that to be how they work into 2025. The need to provide remote support for these teams stretched many early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

MDM solutions such as those from Jamf can help, but it is interesting how Apple’s reputation for reliability supports the effort:

  • More than half (55%) the IT decision-makers surveyed reported fewer issues managing Apple compared to non-Apple devices.
  • Most (58%) described Apple devices as easier to secure, compared to 42% who felt the same about non-Apple devices.

This very much reflects a recent Apple-sponsored survey that claimed you’ll save hundreds of dollars deploying Macs across a business in comparison to PCs.

Of course, enterprise leaders must understand that technology deployment is not merely a matter of throwing equipment at people. For best results, consideration must also extend to software compatibility, security protocols and cultural fit.

Emerging solutions for digital community

A sense of community is one of the biggest challenges to deliver in a hybrid/remote environment, which is where solutions such as Teamflow can help. Irish non-profit Grow Remote has created local hubs where remote employees can meet other remote workers to find some sense of community, while some Silicon Valley firms encourage staff to speak with others from beyond their team in virtual coffee chats. While it may be challenging, serendipity through random connection remains possible.

A copy of the Jamf-sponsored report is available here

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2021 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Android’s underappreciated upgrade advantage | Computerworld

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Well, gang, it’s that time of year again — time when a magical and revolutionary new iOS update is making its way into the world and everyone’s talking about how Android’s software upgrade standard is an embarrassment in comparison.

Now, look, you know me: I’m not gonna beat around the bush and tell you that the Android upgrade system is optimal — or even anything close to free from flaws. My annual Android Upgrade Report Card strips the situation of its velvety bathrobe and lays bare the cold, sobering truth, even when certain Android device-makers fight nail and tooth to convince us everything’s peachy.

As is almost always the case, though, the reality is far more nuanced than you’d be led to believe. Yes, the vast majority of Android device-makers are flat-out failing when it comes to keeping their devices consistently up to date with the latest Android version. Yes, that’s especially true when it comes to the oft-overlooked year-old flagship phone models, not to mention the sprawling galaxy of midrange and budget-level devices. And yes, even Google, as the sole Android hardware creator doing an all-around admirable job at providing timely and reliable software updates to its devices, could and should be supporting phones for far longer than it is (a shift that signs suggest could finally shape up soon, incidentally).

But still, the situation isn’t nearly as black and white as it appears. And the Apple-to-Android upgrade comparison, as I’ve put it before, is very much a case of comparing apples to oranges.

The two-part tale of Android upgrades

Let’s start with the Android side of the equation, shall we? Most of the attention related to upgrades understandably revolves around Google’s shiny annual Android operating system updates. And you’d better believe those updates matter — not only for the interface enhancements they deliver but also for the under-the-hood improvements they provide in critically important areas areas like privacy, security, and performance.

But with Android, those operating system updates are only half the story. For well over a decade now, Google’s been pulling what were once core operating system elements out of the operating system proper and treating them as standalone apps instead. That means those elements — all of which are still considered part of the single-bundle operating system in the land of iOS — get updated numerous times a month, all throughout the year. And those updates reach every single Android device within a matter of days, regardless of which company made it or how long ago it was released.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

20+ iOS 15 changes that help you get things done

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Nearly 100 million of the world’s 1 billion iPhone users have already installed iOS 15, according to Mixpanel. Here are 20 of the most obscure or exciting features those who have chosen to install Apple’s new mobile OS can now access.

Easier upgrades

Every enterprise user will benefit when upgrading their iPhone to iOS 15, which provides unlimited iCloud storage for up to three weeks when setting up a new device. Open Settings>General>Transfer or Reset iPhone to use this. Enterprise users also benefit from Apple’s all-new declarative management MDM system.

Live Text

The capacity to use your camera to scan text really is a game-changer. Open your camera and point it at a street sign, a page in a book, or a magazine. You can also open an image in your Photos library containing text and long press in the text area until the Live Text button appears. You can then copy that text and paste it anywhere you wish.

This works really well with the built-in Translate tool, which will translate text selected in any app, and also lets you work with the translated text. You can scan a road sign, translate it, and paste that translation into an email, or use it to translate a guidebook when travelling. Powerful stuff.

Privacy monitoring

You can monitor what your apps get up to in iOS 15 using a feature called Record App Activity. This consists of a seven-day summary of how often each app accesses your microphone, visits websites, and so on. It’s an excellent tool to identify any napps that may be exfiltrating your data or making use of it beyond what you approve. The feature isn’t on by default, though — enable it in Settings>Privacy>Record App Activity.

Share with Siri

When you come across a URL, image, or Message you want to share with a friend or colleague, you can now say: “Hey Siri, share this with [name of person in your Contacts]” and Siri will do the work for you. It will even send an image of what you want to share if it can’t share the content itself.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

What is iCloud+ (and why should you use it)?

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If you received an Apple email letting you know you’ve been upgraded to iCloud+ at no additional charge, you’re not alone. So, what is iCloud+? What do you get, and why should you use it?

What is iCloud+?

Announced at WWDC 2021, iCloud+ is a suite of additional services designed to supplement the existing features of Apple’s online iCloud service. Despite its name, it doesn’t cost any more than before but is only available to those on paid plans. The free 5GB tier doesn’t get these additional features. The upgraded service adds useful security enhancements, including iCloud Private Relay (still in beta), Hide My email, and improved support for HomeKit Secure Video.

Announcing the upgrade to paid users, Apple said:

“Great news! We’ve automatically upgraded your iCloud storage plan to iCloud+ at no additional charge. iCloud+ combines everything you already love about iCloud with new features including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, and more HomeKit Secure Video support.”

Why should you use iCloud+?

These new features are designed to help keep users secure. That security extends from protecting Safari browsing sessions all the way to ensuring marketers can’t easily gather information about you. If you care about your privacy, these features should be helpful. They may also have implications for enterprises, while the iCloud Custom domain tool should come in handy for small business users.

So, what do you get? Let’s dive into each component.

What is iCloud Private Relay?

Currently available in beta, iCloud Private Relay is a VPN-like service that protects you when you use Safari to browse online. It uses a dual-hop architecture. That means the service encrypts Safari traffic as it leaves your device, protecting it from being read by others. It encrypts the URL so no one, not your ISP or Apple, can see what site you are visiting. Your IP and the destination are then accessed using an intermediate relay station run by a “third-party trusted partner,” according to Apple.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

What’s not coming (yet) in iOS 15/iPadOS 15

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Apple ships the latest iteration of its operating systems for iPads and iPhones today, but some (though not all) of the most enterprise-friendly features won’t be ready on day one.

What you get with iOS 15/iPadOS 15

Despite the extent of this list, you will still be gaining a slew of new features when you do upgrade your operating system(s). Focus, for example, will help you keep your head down to get things done, while the new design of Safari at present seems like great news to anyone else creating browsers for iOS. Maps gives new views, including 3D views, and you’ll get much better sound during FaceTime calls. Photos gets much better at identifying and sharing memories selected from your collection. Live Text, a slew of privacy protecting features, and excellent improvements to Contacts, Notes and Reminders — including support for tags — should give most iPhone and iPad users plenty of useful new tools.

Enterprises will also benefit from a far more powerful MDM system.

What you won’t get with 15

What follows are features that are slated to be made available in a later software update.

One additional caveat is that some features, particularly those that make use of AI, will only be supported on iPhone XS or newer. These include such tools Live Text in photos, for instance. There are also a small number of features that require you have a very recent iPhone.

Universal Control

Perhaps the most exciting improvement we’ll be left waiting for pending introduction of macOS Monterey, Universal Control lets you use a single mouse and keyboard to control up to three devices, so long as they are all logged in to the same Apple ID. You can move your cursor between all the screens and drag-&-drop items between devices, making it far easier to work with multiple devices.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple’s big reveal — the iPhone 13 — seems lucky for most

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At its big September event Tuesday, Apple showed us how powerful chips boosted by software and hardware integration and bespoke machine intelligence can deliver real value to every user.

What Apple introduced

The company seemingly confirmed all the pre-event rumors, introducing iPhones with all-day battery life, accompanied by an unexpected star in the form of an A15-powered iPad mini powerful enough to use for any mobile productivity task.

The company told us iOS 15 will be available on Monday, Sept. 20. The company also introduced a new Apple Watch and a much-improved entry-level iPad.

What Apple said

About the iPhone, Apple said:

“Our customers rely on iPhone every day, which is why we’ve made iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini more powerful, more capable, and more fun to use,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

“Both phones have beautiful designs, industry-leading performance, and advanced camera systems with impressive computational photography features, all with incredible durability, water resistance, and a big jump in battery life to ensure customers can depend on their iPhone when they need it. All of this, tightly integrated with iOS 15 and with privacy built in, make iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini an unbeatable choice.”

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Should the brilliant new iPad mini go Pro?

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I imagine the A15 processor inside the iPad mini may deliver similar performance to what it can achieve inside the smaller iPhone. We don’t have the benchmark data to prove this assumption yet, but it’s possible — assuming Apple hasn’t downclocked the chip.

The iPad mini basics

Apple told us the new A15 processor in the iPad mini delivers “a 40% jump in performance, and the 5-core GPU delivers an 80% leap in graphics performance compared to the previous generation of iPad mini.”

The previous model used an A12 Bionic chip about as powerful as the entry-level iPad 8, which has also been replaced. A little creative thinking based on adding 40% to existing single-core and multi-core iPad mini benchmarks means the new iPad mini should be just about as capable as the current iPad Air, which was last year’s best Apple tablet.

When that version of the Air shipped, it was faster than the second-generation 11-in. iPad Pro and the 12.9-in. A12Z Bionic iPad Pro.

Stop with the numbers already

I’m going to interrupt this stream of statistics to make a point: The newly-introduced iPad mini is probably as powerful as 2020’s high-end iPad Pro, but weighs less than half as much. (It weighs 0.65 pounds in contrast to the pro, which weighed 1.41 pounds.)

You also get less display (8.3 inches v 12.3 inches), though higher pixel density (326ppi vs 264ppi). But the real compromise is on storage, with a miserly 64GB in the entry-level model. If you do serious work, you will want the 256GB version, which starts at $649.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

A handy hidden shortcut for taking control in Chrome on Android

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One of the absolute worst parts about browsing this dusty ol’ web of ours is when you innocently open up some site — maybe, say, a tech news publication — and a video you didn’t ask for suddenly starts blaring annoying audio into your unexpecting ears. It’s especially obnoxious on a phone, where you’re frequently scrolling on your screen in a semipublic area or whilst someone else slumbers nearby.

We’ve all been there. We all loathe it. And yet, we continue to experience it, with no obvious fix or easy way to avoid the annoyance. (Insert awkward eye-darting here.)

Well, my fellow Android adorer, I’ve got good news for you. Google’s Chrome Android browser actually has an incredibly effective system for sending overly aggressive websites a signal that you don’t appreciate their unprompted audio invasions. In fact, with a single tap of your greasy fingeroo, you can stop a site from making sounds on your phone ever again. And you can take control of all sorts of other site-specific permissions while you’re at it.

Get ready for an illuminating “aha!” moment, ’cause you’re about to meet a convenient Chrome feature that you probably never knew existed.

The on-demand Chrome Android control panel

All right — ready? Here ’tis: Anytime you’re viewing a site within Chrome on Android, you can tap the padlock icon at the top of the screen, to the left of the site’s address, to pop up a power-packed panel that lets you view and adjust all sorts of info about that specific site’s permissions and what it’s able to do.

Behold:

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s been a big week for patches

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This week brought updates that I consider critical for the “Big Three” — my operating system (Windows), my browser (Google Chrome) and my phone (from Apple). All three releases patch major zero-day vulnerabilities on all three platforms.

While I strongly recommend that you patch Chrome and your iPhone as soon as possible, I always recommend that you hold back on updating Windows. That remains true — at least until we see whether there are any trending side effects from the Patch Tuesday updates.

Let’s break down the patching to do right away.

First, prioritize patching Apple devices. Among this week’s patches is one for Pegasus spyware, which can open up access to the camera and microphone as well as text messages, phone calls, and emails.  iPhones, in particular, have been targeted. Apple typically pushes these updates overnight if your phone is plugged in and charging (and connected to the Internet). If you want to make sure your iPhone has received the update, click on Settings, then General, then tap Software Update. Typically, after my iPhone updates, some apps may need passwords again. I personally try to save critical ones in the iCloud keychain. Look for patches for iOS 14.8 and iPad OS 14.8, and Security Update 2021-005 for macOS Catalina and Big Sur 11.6.

The Chrome browser update fixes two in-the-wild exploits patched in version 93.0.4577.82 for Windows, Mac and Linux. (For those using the Chrome OS, Bleeping computer reports that some devices have been reporting black screens after trying to log into their Chrome OS accounts.)

And finally, we come to Microsoft. For anyone hoping this month’s updates would “fix” an issue involving the use of group policy to deal with printers for your domain/business users (I wrote about this earlier), welcome to your new normal: The way you used to deploy printers isn’t fixed. What is fixed is yet another remote attack that utilized the print spooler to gain more access to your machines. So we’re going to have to redeploy print drivers using different means.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

What the iPhone 13 and iPad mini mean for the enterprise

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Apple’s 77-minute iPhone 13 event wasn’t the longest such launch in recent memory – the iPhone 7 reveal  took 119 minutes. But the company’s executives still had quite a lot to get through on Tuesday. Here’s what should matter most to enterprise users.

We all want the same things

To be fair, the division between enterprise and consumer expectations for technology continues to erode: Workers want to use the same tools at work as they do at home – and these days most employers feel the same way. Software and hardware are expected to put users first and provide well thought-through user interfaces that reduce, rather than increase, user friction.

The days when enterprise solutions could get away with being unwieldy or hard to use are quickly disappearing in the rear-view mirror. And that means to some extent even the consumer-focused features Apple highlighted have some bearing on enterprise IT. Some items particularly stood out.

Those carrier promotions

Take carrier promotions, for example. I noted them here, but these are emerging globally in a promising arrangement that should see telcos reap more benefit from their 5G infrastructure investments while giving the 95% of existing iPhone users who don’t yet have a 5G device a really good reason to upgrade.

Jefferies analyst Kyle McNealy notes:

“One of the most important elements of the iPhone 13 launch from our perspective is the carrier promotions (and effective subsidies) that are coming through even bigger than the strong promotions last year.” He observed “promotions as more aggressive than last year – they’re either a higher dollar value or don’t require a net-new line.”

That’s serendipitous, of course, given analyst Morgan Stanley’s belief that 5G is and remains the thing consumers most wanted from the iPhone, followed by improved cameras and better battery life. Apple met all three wishes.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple hits the alarm with multi-OS emergency update to patch zero-click flaw

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Apple on Monday issued emergency security updates for iOS, macOS and its other operating systems to plug a hole that Canadian researchers claimed had been planted on a Saudi political activist’s device by NSO Group, an Israeli seller of spyware and surveillance software to governments and their security agencies.

Updates to patch the under-active-exploit vulnerability were released for iOS 14; macOS 11 and 10, aka Big Sur and Catalina, respectively; iPad OS 14; and watchOS 7.

According to Apple, the vulnerability can be exploited by “processing a maliciously crafted PDF,” which “may lead to arbitrary code execution.” The phrase “arbitrary code execution” is Apple’s way of saying that the bug was of the most serious nature; Apple does not rank threat level of vulnerabilities, unlike operating system rivals such as Microsoft and Google.

Apple credited The Citizen Lab for reporting the flaw.

Also on Monday, Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog organization that operates from the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto, released a report outlining what it found. “While analyzing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we discovered a zero-day zero-click exploit against iMessage,” Citizen Lab researchers wrote.

The exploit, which Citizen Lab dubbed “FORCEDENTRY,” had been used to infect the phone of the activist — and possibly others as far back as February 2021 — with the NGO Group’s “Pegasus” surveillance suite. It, in turn, consists largely of spyware that can document texts and emails sent to and from the device as well as switch on its camera and microphone for secret recording.

Citizen Lab was confident that FORCEDENTRY was associated with Pegasus and thus, NGO Group. According to researchers, the spyware loaded by the zero-click exploit contained coding characteristics, including ones never made public, that Citizen Lab had come across in previous analysis of NGO Group and Pegasus.

“Despite promising their customers the utmost secrecy and confidentiality, NSO Group’s business model contains the seeds of their ongoing unmasking,” Citizen Labs’ researcher wrote in their Monday report. “Selling technology to governments that will use the technology recklessly in violation of international human rights law ultimately facilitates discovery of the spyware by investigatory watchdog organizations.”

Apple device owners can download and install the security-only updates issued Monday by triggering a software update through the device’s OS.

Copyright © 2021 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

3 new time-saving Assistant tricks to try on Android

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Attention, my fellow Android-owning hominids: Your favorite virtual assistant is learning a few new skills.

Google Assistant is in the midst of getting some significant upgrades on Android — small-seeming features that could have a supersized impact on your workday efficiency. They’re exactly the types of productivity-boosting tidbits I love to uncover on Android, as they’ll make your phone instantly smarter and your life immediately easier.

So what’s the catch, you might be wondering? Well, my curious comrade, there’s just one — and it’s deliciously easy to overcome: These new Assistant abilities are arriving mostly unannounced. (A familiar-feeling tale at this point, wouldn’t ya say?) They oughta be available on any reasonably recent Android phone by now, though. It’s just up to you to find ’em and then figure out how they fit into your personal productivity picture.

So enough with the vague yammering: Let’s break down exactly what these new Android Assistant features are all about and how they could be helpful for you.

New Android Assistant feature No. 1: The delayed action

Our first Android Assistant addition is a welcome new way to automate any type of Assistant-connected action imaginable and then add a delay into that equation.

Sounds a little strange, right? Let me put it into more practical terms. With this new capability in tow, you could do things like:

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple’s App Store payments loss isn’t Epic enough

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The first 185-page Apple-v-Epic judgment didn’t please anybody when it arrived on Friday. Apple will be required to permit people to pay for apps and in-app purchases using third party payment services that  developers will be entitled to link to.

Epic is appealing the decision, but it’s interesting that while it sued Apple and Google over the 30% fee, it has not started litigation against Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony — all three of which charge the same fee at their online stores.

What does the ruling mean?

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling means that when you pay for a Spotify subscription or some in-app power up you may be given a link that lets you pay through payment systems other than Apple.

I guess developers will get to choose which payment systems to use, but I imagine Apple will still be able to insist on its payment systems being a choice. Developers will have a choice. Some will offer their apps/services at up to 30% less than the equivalent cost via the store; others will try to keep the extra change. Some will not bother offering alternative payment systems; others can’t wait to do so.

What this means in practice

What the judgement has done is set in motion a new kind of competition at the App Store, and if it happens there, it will happen elsewhere. After all, if Apple is required to open for payments competition (even a little), so logically should every other app store provider. Basically, app store payment systems just became a new competitive space, and while that’s bad for Apple’s bottom line in the short-term, it may be able to turn that challenge around.

What can Apple do?

Apple can compete. The judge noted the 70% profit margin generated by App Store sales right now, which is incredibly high and shows why Apple’s existing 30% margin should change. At the same time, Apple’s payment systems are relatively robust and some of the benefits of using them somewhat unsung. That’s going to change.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

BMW fined $18 million for inflating monthly US sales figures

BMW fined $18 million for inflating monthly US sales figures

DETROIT -- BMW will pay an $18 million fine to settle allegations that it inflated its monthly U.S. sales numbers for five straight years. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday that t…