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Apple's best product is now privacy (fastcompany.com)
715 points by octosphere 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 417 comments





I'd switched to a OnePlus a few years ago and was delighted by the performance/cost.

In the last few years the combined privacy invasion from:

1. Google at the very heart of Android (and even Cyanogen/LineageOS with DNS, Google Play Services etc.) and everything I do on the phone. 2. OnePlus with sending data and telemetry back to China and being caught out multiple times after saying they respect the user. 3. Facebook with asking for/getting insane levels of permissions from Android for their apps.

Has made me realise that Apple are the only option for anyone who cares about privacy and wants some simplicity.

Sure I'd love for the ello (/e/) project to eventually take off and provide a real solution but in the meantime and for now Apple aren't showing any signs of wanting to (or needing to) exploit/sell my personal data.

I'm degooglifying as much as possible and my tech friends are too after the recent scandals. Google's a company we will look back on in 50 years as being a blight on freedom.


Sadly also Apple collects data on their users. Last year around 300TB a day on what users search for, which apps they use, how many times, where you click and navigate through the OS and in the apps, etc. :(

Apple, along with Google and other companies, gives the government access to pretty much all of our data: https://www.theverge.com/2013/6/6/4403868/nsa-fbi-mine-data-...

As far as I'm aware, none of those companies knowingly gave that information over to the NSA. In Google's example, the NSA had tapped their inter-datacenter fiber lines to steal the data. That's why all inter-datacenter traffic at Google is always encrypted now.

Yep, that's why our data is a liability for them, thus they are trying to collect as less as possible.

Which, is also the main argument of the OP for preferring Apple.


Apple gives the government a backdoor into your iPhone. So I'd argue that you don't have privacy when you use an iPhone, period. Same goes for any smartphone, really.

I'd guess that Apple really collects less data because they want to preserve your battery life, not your privacy.


Please provide a source or don’t post unsubstantiated comments.

That comment was based on the title of the article I linked to above: "Secret program gives NSA, FBI backdoor access to Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft data".

I assumed that PRISM data came from a "backdoor" it had to iPhones. There's no proof that PRISM data didn't come from a backdoor to iPhones. But there's no proof it did come from a backdoor either. So I'll take back that comment.


"Snowden: FBI Saying It Can't Unlock iPhone is 'Bullsh'"

http://fortune.com/2016/03/09/snowden-fbi-apple-iphone/


Sorry, how has Apple given the gov’t a backdoor?

Sources? I hear this way too often.

Source?

Important questions:

1. Do they share this data with people?

2. Is this data anonymized?

3. Is this data directly monetized, or otherwise give incentives to violate user privacy?


I'd argue that other questions around how the data is:

- handled

- available for access by employees

- retained, deleted, and stored

etc.. are at least as important for your privacy.

As someone who works in security, I am as concerned or more about the seemingly inevitable breach's impact on my privacy.


Apple is a business like any other, all it will take is for the right financial incentives for them to engage in data sharing if they don't already.

There is a financial incentive to NOT share data because there is a demand in the market for privacy. Apple can pursue this market because they charge for hardware. Google had no way of making money on privacy because they don’t sell a physical product.

So it is simple: Apple has a choice. Google doesn’t.


> There is a financial incentive to NOT share data because there is a demand in the market for privacy

Where? I can't identify a single non-tech-oriented person in my life who makes phone purchasing decisions based off of vague notions like privacy.

In fact, I'd say that the market does not demand privacy, it is ambivalent to it. I don't agree with ambivalence, but I also don't see consumers making privacy-minded purchases, either.


As long as the money is flowing in. I don't think people will be buying $1500 smartphones in a recession.

Few people in America pay full price for the phone. All of the carriers offer zero percent interest payment plans as does Apple. Yes I know it’s paying the full price but psychologically, most people only care about the monthly amount.

Sure, but what do you think those incentives could probably be for a company that makes its living based not on data collection but selling physical products whose 'best product is now privacy' according to the post, and who are more profitable than anyone else?

Profit, pure and simple. Just because they're profitable, does not mean they will not seek other avenues of revenue. I won't pretend to be able to predict the future, but markets shift, and should Apple find themselves in less favorable position than the one they're in today, I'd have a hard time believing they wouldn't sell user data.

Google was once the "don't be evil" company.


This is something all businesses do. The issue is whether or not they sell that information.

Why is that "the issue"? There are many other problems with excessive telemetry besides data being sold to third parties. Besides, both Google and Apple claim that they don't sell telemetry data to third parties, so how is that aspect of the issue even relevant here?

Well, ok but Apple also

- does not use that data to sell stuff to you.

- don't have a reason to profile you and store those profiles constantly updated.

- don't have a reason to "follow" you across the web everywhere you go to update that profile.

Just having that profile on you makes a company a liability. C you trust a company that makes money solely based on the information they collect about you to make decisions that benefit you? or your privacy and security?


Well, the question I always ask is who has more to gain (financially) from selling user telemetry: Apple or Google?

Any third party that would pay google enough for the data would probably be seen by Alphabet as a company ripe for disruption.

Do you have a source for this?

I’d love to learn more

> Facebook with asking for/getting insane levels of permissions from Android for their apps.

Why then use the app in the first place? I mean, the mobile sites of fb are pretty much functional to me. (Admittably, I am happy to have no notifications on my phone outside sms and calls)


They've been progressively gimping the mobile site for a while. Now you can't use messenger from the mobile site, for zero good reason as far as I can tell. They just want to force people into using the app where they can harvest more data.

mbasic.facebook.com still has messenger built in and doesnt take ages to load

Thanks so much. I've been using m.facebook.com but they removed the messenger from there. I've been using messenger lite because it doesn't require as many permissions and is just so much lighter to use, but it lacks one of the most important things to me: gifs

privacy, battery life and ram >>> gifs.

In my experience, m.facebook.com and mbasic.facebook.com return far less content than the full web page. And mbasic gets the least.

There have been times when mbasic has shown me two items, and that's it. Switching to m returned more. But only going to the full www showed me everything going on.

So now I restrict myself to using Facebook just one day a week. It's not as good as cutting Facebook off entirely, but it at least reduces some of its data gathering on me.


You might do it on a big computer if you have one. I keep Facebook in a fluid instance on my Mac. About 3 times in the past few years I’ve wished I had my login on my phone to get an address for an event or something, but haven’t gone there since I can remember. I don’t really use messenger though.

Google (YouTube, Search) and LinkedIn are doing that too. Especially if you are also using FireFox. Subtle differences in functionality, things missing here and there. Still I am opting for the web versions with my privacy settings and Privacy Badger, etc. LinkedIn app has a builtin Chromium browser that you can't control and may have custom code additions.

You can still go to m.facebook.com and then request desktop version to get access to messenger. But this is annoying, and most people aren’t aware of workaround like this.

I regularly use the mobile site messenger - you have to request a desktop site with m.facebook and the overlay won't show.

I suspect it'd be trivial to remove the overlay with CSS.


Have you tried Messenger Lite? I don't know about privacy implications of having it alone on your phone, no other FB apps, but it's quite good.

I ended up not using the app but I know lots of non-tech people who are unaware and so carry on. That for me isn't great.

I don't have a Facebook account. But the app is bundled with my 'unlocked' LG G5, and there's no option in the Play store to uninstall it. Only "update", which I refuse to do.

+1 and even better: http://mbasic.facebook.com loads extremely fast and includes messenger.

However, the most Apple's system is close sourced, meaning if they want to do something, you're still defenseless. There are no Eden now, you need to protect yourself.

People's will towards privacy is still weak, they don't know what those company could do with that amount of data. Ignorant, that's why those company keep doing what they do.

It's just like running a restaurant, as long as people can't see disgusting thing in their food, then everything will be fine and dandy, no matter how unhygienic the kitchen was.

Sad.


Most good stuff is closed source now. It is what it is.

It boils down to trust. Do you trust Google? Do you trust Apple?

I trust Google to care very much about security. I also trust that they are gathering as much information as they can about me. Even as a paid customer. It’s baked into their business model.

I trust Apple to care very much about security. I also trust that they fundamentally believe in privacy and are not gathering large swaths of data about me, and are doing what they can to keep others from doing so if I play in their garden. It’s baked into their business model.


> It boils down to trust. Do you trust Google? Do you trust Apple?

Why don't boil down even further? How comfortable you are when you put your own security on other people's hand? Do you trust others will protect you no matter what? Do you trust others will completely be honest with you no matter what?

I don't know about you, but for me, I always trying to figure out the detail of the thing that will be rely on, even it's just a door alarm. Only after that, I can then tell whether or not I trust it.

If I understand you correctly, I can say that your "trust" is actually a form of trade off: I want to use the awesome __________ Phone, so I can ______________. For that, I could take some shit from __________ as long as they don't ______________.

However, that just means you've convinced yourself to trust something, hardly anything else.

And speak of "business model", many company was cool and awesome when it's young. Things change.

So, if it's a question: Do you trust Google? Do you trust Apple? Both no. I kept my file encrypted when uploading to Google Drive, and I don't use iCloud at all. I have 16 different Google accounts and 3 Apple accounts, each for different things, and I replace most of then every two years (Or when Google start to ask me for my phone number).

My advise: Don't dip yourself into that situation when you have to make a choice like that.


To me it boils down to this. At some level, there is a point where you have to trust people/companies. I don’t have time to spend researching and installing custom software to protect privacy. I fully understand that there are people here who have the time to devote to that or want to spend time doing that, but it’s not practical for most people to really spend much time on it.

So, given that I have to trust someone (and for 99% of people on the planet this is also true) I choose to trust Apple.


I did the same and now I'm feeling the same way.

Currently I'm running with an MS Lumia 950 and when necessary, I'll switch back to Android. I've completely removed all my social media apps on both phones.

The most recent reason I needed to switch back to my OnePlus 2 was because my hockey manager now uses Venmo to accept payment for the upcoming season. I was pissed when I found out Venmo won't allow you to process payments from your desktop account anymore. You are forced to download and install the Android app, and then send money that way.

It just feels so invasive. I felt like they were saying, "We can't get the data we want on your PC, so we'll force you to download and install the app, and in the process, give us the permissions we want to get to your data.


Can you expand on the Lineage OS DNS issues?

I'd read previously that Lineage's DNS is hardwired into Google's DNS due to Google tying their DNS into pretty much everything.

Check out the comments here: https://www.xda-developers.com/e-google-free-lineageos-fork-...


There's at least one other company trying to provide a solution https://puri.sm/shop/librem-5/

Sony + Sailfish OS could also be an option since support for Sailfish is official.

Have you checked out Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite? I haven't looked into it much but it's possible they request less permissions as the app is built to have limited functionalities.

for anyone mentioning Facebook Lite & Messenger Lite: stop, stop using them right away, the 2 apps enable all permissions without asking (because Android is saying it needs to enable all for old apps, WHAT?) also on Android, you can't share a photo to Facebook Messenger without granting at least Storage permission or Photo permission (which is not the case on Instagram)

oh wow, thanks for that!

It’s still feeding Facebook the company and ultimately rewarding privacy-unfriendly business models.

Apple might offer better privacy than Google or Facebook now, but it can change easily because privacy is not their core product.

I have high hopes for Librem 5 where privacy of user is the core product of the company.

https://puri.sm/shop/librem-5/


You're not free until you're libre.

Purism and Tuxedo Computers are two otions for mobile, laptop, and desktop systems without preinstalled surveillance capitalism.

https://puri.sm

https://www.tuxedocomputers.com/en

(No association.)


Though I think apples "pro privacy" stance is likely just a happy accident I tend to agree.

Either you choose a somewhat open platform, or you choose privacy. One would have thought/hoped that they were tightly coupled.

As it is today I can not buy a phone without having a deep bottomless disdain for it. Not the hardware but the software. And I don't even expect that much.

I have given up entirely, the slither of hope is that in the future we can decouple the smart in smart phone with the phone. A truly dumb phone that I can interface from another device, a device I have some control over that I don't have to sell my soul to.


> Either you choose a somewhat open platform, or you choose privacy. One would have thought/hoped that they were tightly coupled.

I think this comes down to two things:

If we define "polish" as: consistency+predictable UX+aesthetics

1. openness involves interoperability, and polish is more expensive to achieve when interoperability is a requirement

2. the primary market for polish tends to value exclusivity, which—while not entirely contradictory to openness—tends towards non-openness

The combination of these two means that when you focus on polish you end up with a product line that is likely to be non-open.

The fact that the primary market for polish also tends to be economically comfortable also conveniently leads to margins that allow for privacy, but I think this is just a happy accident.

It's my belief that if we want a private + open platform we need to:

- Accept very large sacrifices* in polish because doing both is only economically viable when catering to a market that doesn't want/need openness

- Choose a different economic model where resources are available to do both simultaneously.

* Also worth noting that sacrificing quality and/or UX can lead to less privacy given that privacy depends on security and security depends on both quality, and also on UX to prevent social attacks.


I'd argue that the GNU/Unix text interface is open, interoperable, and highly polished. The key ingredient is time.

Modern windowing systems are also very similar. A Windows 3.1 or early MacOS user would have no trouble using a computer today.

Touch and phone interfaces will get there, too, as both software and culture evolve together.

I can't wait for, and would love to support, the Debian of phone architectures. In past HN threads, it has been suggested to me that the real blocker for a good open phone OS is at the hardware/kernel level. That was the state of the hardware environment in the late nineties and early 2000s.

Give it time, effort, and support, and a great and open OS will emerge.


I can't wait for, and would love to support, the Debian of phone architectures. In past HN threads, it has been suggested to me that the real blocker for a good open phone OS is at the hardware/kernel level. That was the state of the hardware environment in the late nineties and early 2000s.

I would like to be that optimistic, but I am not. The PC has always been a fundamentally open platform and hardware has been supported by many OSes for a long time. When I was young, we would run MS-DOS, DR-DOS, OS/2 and Windows 3.x (which was strictly spoken not an OS). After 1994 I also ran Linux and BSD and I never had any real problems hardware-wise. There was a difficult time around the turn of the century with WinModems and printers that only supported Windows. But that was more of a temporary regression.


I remember working hard for good graphics-card support and perpetually rolling my own kernels to support even year-old motherboards.

The biggest blocker in our experimental labs for open-source software was always hardware drivers. These days, linux is extremely common and generally well-supported.


I agree with you mostly, but I think the OS is there (Linux) we just need more mainstream Open Hardware, and hopefully Librem 5 will be the one to push things forward.

> Either you choose a somewhat open platform, or you choose privacy.]]

Sadly yes, which is why I backed the Librem 5 and hope it pans out, the promise of an open platform that respects your privacy is a really compelling one right now.


Same here. Whenever I get caught up in some religious phone OS war I say I chose the platform I hate the least. I wish I could love my iPhone, but there are so many things wrong with it which could easily be solved without compromising anything product wise.

Can you give some examples? Things being broken in life is usually one or more of:

- lack of time to implement (this would be great but we have three people on a team, and five features to deliver...)

- lack of people who care enough and have the resources to fix it (this would be great, but manager has other priorities that are more important at the moment)

- conscious choice as expression of philosophy or style (like flat UI)

- conscious technical trade off (like on-device photo analysis)

What are some of the things you think are wrong and would be easy to solve? Openradar links would be useful too :)


So, my single biggest daily aggravation: I turn off bluetooth/wifi frequently.[1]

There is no way to make the &%*#ing thing stop whining about lack of wifi - it literally waits until I'm trying to do something else to throw up a shitty dialog trying to annoy me into turning it on.

I turn connectivity off for a reason, and no, Apple does not know better in this instance. It is incredibly user-hostile and irritating, and I hope the engineer that wrote that code gets pink eye[2].

[1] I know, I'm a weirdo. Trying to explain how I'm Doing It Wrong will lead me to ignore you.

[2] I kid. It is really annoying, though.


I don't think you are doing it wrong but in 90% of the cases that's on the app developer. The OS usually doesn't ask for wifi randomly but many apps do. They check for connectivity and if wifi isn't available they prompt the user. It's not hard code to write but it shouldn't be used often. I'm actually writing similar code right now but for a pretty good reason, I'm working a feature that might use the presence of a wifi network to indicate proximity to an IoT device.

Presumably, you're trying to do something that requires a network connection when it prompts you? If that's not a case the behavior is likely a bug.

Under Settings > Wi-Fi, turn off “Ask to join networks”

Above all else, I can't develop for my own device without rebuilding weekly.

I can't run real Firefox.

I can't route all calls through Google Voice.

I can't run CarPlay without a head unit.

I can't open all map links in my preferred maps app.

I can't create restricted accounts for my kids.

It's essentially unusable as a "smart" phone.

Any claims about privacy fall apart after investigation. Google will still get my location on iOS if I use Google Search, exactly as it does on Android.


> I can't develop for my own device without rebuilding weekly.

Well, unless you pay, or use Swift Playgrounds.

> I can't create restricted accounts for my kids.

Does the standard set of restrictions not do what you want?

> Google will still get my location on iOS if I use Google Search, exactly as it does on Android.

You don't have to use Google…


> Does the standard set of restrictions not do what you want?

Separate accounts have separate data, not just restrictions.

> You don't have to use Google…

That's the point.


>I can't route all calls through Google Voice.

This is on Google now. Apple provides ways for app developers to use the native phone UI now. If I set up my number with the Google Hangouts app, I can get calls from my Google Voice number via the Voice app or the native UI. You can't do this with the Google Voice app but I have a feeling that's because they haven't updated it to support this API.


I'm talking about calling out, not receiving calls, which doesn't require any support from the phone as Google Voice can forward to any phone number.

What do you mean you can’t call out on a Google Voice? You open the app and make the call.

If Google Voice has Siri integration which has been around for awhile, you can say “Call X using Google Voice” and it will call using GV and activate the phone Bluetooth protocol if you are connected to your car’s Bluetooth system.


I mean click on a phone number in my contacts app or on a web page and have the call go through Google Voice or dial in my default phone app and have the call go through Google Voice.

And it’s somehow harder to go to the Google Voice app and call especially when you can import your contacts?

What’s the fundamental difference between clicking on Contacts and making a call and clicking on the GV app?

If the GV app has been updated to take advantage of the latest APIs, calls to and from the GV app will show up in your call history along with the native dialer.

If you like GV, why use the native contacts app at all? Any app that adds to contacts will automaticallly be added to GV.


You entirely ignored the part about clicking on phone numbers in web pages. It's the same with any app. I should be able to use whichever contacts app I like, whether it is a unified contacts app, my LinkedIn contacts, my Facebook contacts, the maps application, etc. Any time I click a phone number to make a call, it should appear to come from my Google Voice number. Copying and pasting is horrible experience just to make a call.

Blame that on Google. If you use Chrome on iOS, they already give you a choice of which maps app to use and which mail client to use. There is no reason they couldn’t give you the choice of how to handle Tel links.

If Google wanted to since they already have all of the apps, you could completely stay in the Google ecosystem on iOS - Browser, mail client, google voice, etc.


I should be able to do it from any app as I stated earlier (not just Google's) just as I can on Android.

And have all of the security issues that go along with it....

https://gkbrk.com/2017/05/android-dialer-packets/


You're grasping for excuses. There are security issues with running any app on your phone. A maps app could do nefarious things with your location. A browser app could do nefarious things with your browse history. That doesn't mean Apple blocks all third party apps.

If I trust a phone app enough to use its dialer, I should be able to route all calls through it. If I trust a maps app enough to use it manually, I should be able to set it to open for all address links. It really is that simple.


You can deny Google Search location services and iOS blocks far more tracking cookies than Android, so I don't think you can support that claims about privacy falling apart.

You can also disable location in Google Search on Android, in addition to switching to entirely different search providers and assistants. On Android, you can block tracking cookies in all apps, not just the web browser — without having to "jailbreak" your phone (relying on a rootable security vulnerability) or even unlock the bootloader.

For somebody who is seriously privacy-conscience, Android is strictly better.

All claims about privacy appear to stem from using fewer Google apps by default. Those default apps (like Safari and Siri) are inferior to their Google equivalents for most users, and for the people who don't want to give Google information, Android users can choose to use non-Google apps as well (like Firefox and local assistants and maps).


That's not at all were all the claims come from. You can block all ads without jailbreaking on iOS and iOS collections an order of magnitude less tracking data[0] than Android. Apple has pioneered the differential privacy algorithm's on top of that. Apple has a ton of features pointed at user privacy especially in the latest version of Safari. Android is in no way strictly better for privacy and saying so is irresponsible IMO.

[0] https://digitalcontentnext.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/DC...


> You can block all ads without jailbreaking on iOS

You can't block ads across all apps without running your own ad-blocking proxy, jailbreaking, or paying Apple for the privilege of building an ad-blocking app on your phone. You can on Android by just installing an app (one example: https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.blokada.alarm/).

> and iOS collections an order of magnitude less tracking data[0] than Android.

iOS collects the same data that Android collects. The difference is how much data the default apps collect that go to Google as I stated earlier. The Google apps are strictly better than the equivalent Apple apps for most users (maps, assistant, photos, mail, etc.). For the relatively fewer users who care more about privacy than about their apps doing things for them by knowing about them, Android has more and better options as well (Firefox, local apps, system-wide ad blocking, etc.).


How has apple pioneered differential privacy. MS started it and Google has used ot before Apple ,even open sourced some portion of it,iirc. Google is also doing research in federated learning(ian goodfellow)

> You can also disable location in Google Search on Android, in addition to switching to entirely different search providers and assistants.

Nope. Google was caught collecting location data even when everything was turned off:

https://qz.com/1131515/google-collects-android-users-locatio...

They also made their settings very misleading: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/13/17684660/google-turn-off-...


Your second link is about data collection that Google apps also do on iPhones. It doesn't happen if you use a different search provider or disable sending your location for Google searches, as I stated and you quoted.

Your first link is about accidental collection that no longer occurs according to the article.


All valid point and I would add ignorance to it. They simply don’t know or care.

I file radars when applicable, my gripes are more general:

- No universal 3D Touch puts it in a weird spot. I like 3D Touch! Why not say we equip all models with 3D Touch, similar to when they made ips display the standard even for entry level MacBooks.

-prohibiting self signed applications. You have all the right to keep Steam Link off your shop, but not off my device. And if I had the desire to install Alex Jones’ app I would like to do that. You’re not my mom Apple. I’m still hoping the EU will fix this at some point.

-iTunes. I use it. It’s awful. If they would at least kill it off I’d know not to use it anymore.

-Seriously lagging behind in standards like PWAs, wireless charging or NFC.

-iMessage and Airdrop are awesome. Too bad I can rarely use them because the majority around me use Android.


I'm asking this as a thought experiment, nothing personal.

What if, fixing things the way you like breaks these features for someone else?


That's why it's great if these thugs come with an [ON|OFF] switch. Let everyone decide what they use but start with secure as default.

What would having headphone jack break?

Two things:

1. There's really no space for it, if you look at teardowns. So something took its place.

2. It does give better water resistance. Google the water resistance tests between iPhones and others. The difference is night and day in real world performance.


>> 1. There's really no space for it, if you look at teardowns. So something took its place.

This guy was able to add the headphone jack back into an iPhone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utfbE3_uAMA). The argument that there is really no space just isn't true.


…by ruining the Taptic Engine, if I recall correctly, or by spending thousands of dollars on getting this to work. It's not like Apple just left a hole in that spot out of spite.

People who have some kind of weird hate for Apple always assume that everything Apple does is out of spite.

Apple very rarely does things out of spite. And usually when that happens, it's a mistake rather than a conscious, malicious decision.

By breaking the seals that make the phone waterproof, removing a housing component, and breaking the Taptic Engine. He did nothing of the sort.

The S9 has a higher waterproof rating than the iPhone X.

1. No. Teardowns have shown nothing of that sort. It's a marketing decision to push people to buy $170 airpods. In fact, there's a very popular tech blogger's video where he successfully adds in a headphone jack[1] to his iPhone 8.

2. No. Samsung phones are far more water resistant than iPhones are with a jack on it. I would love to see your links to said research.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utfbE3_uAMA


> It's a marketing decision to push people to buy $170 airpods.

Earbuds that work with the iPhone come in the box (and prior to the just announced models even an adapter was included). I'm not sure how lack of a jack pushes someone to buy AirPods. Maybe it makes them think about buying bluetooth headphones over wired if they were already thinking about third party headphones? Maybe.

Also while you may disagree about the 'barometric vent', it was put in the space that the headphone jack would have taken.

As pictured above, you can see a piece of plastic sits behind the ingress protection (waterproofing!), right where the headphone jack would have been. And (update!) according to Apple it's a "barometric vent." Apparently adding all the waterproofing to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus meant that it was more of a sealed box, and so to be able to have an accurate and working barometer, Apple used that space. The barometer is the thing that allows a phone to measure altitude, and Apple points out that on the iPhone 7 it can measure even minor changes like climbing a flight of stairs.

https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/16/12941040/iphone-7-teardow...


I would rather have a headphone jack than a barometer.

You may disagree how the space was used, but I wanted to point out that it was in fact used. The poster I responded to said tear downs showed it not used. Even the video given as evidence showed the guy taking out the vent as the first step.

Wires are so last century. Bluetooth headphones have been available for at least 20 years. (I had a pair for my SonyEricsson m600c, and I'm not an early adopter.)

Knowing my altitude is something I need on at least a weekly basis. I'm OK with losing a port I haven't used in a couple of decades.


I don't want to have to charge my headphones or have them run out of battery.

And that's fine, but if you do anything active while wearing headphones, wireless is so much better. Even my cheap bluetooth headphones last 10 hours on a short charge (and tell me when they need to be recharged). I couldn't imagine going back to wires at the gym or while doing yard work. I do use a wired pair at my desk, but then why would I plug into my phone?

And AirPods? If you keep them in the case between uses they should always be charged.


Out of curiosity, why do you frequently need to know your altitude? I don't think I've ever known my altitude except when driving past those "Welcome to Springdalevale, pop. 781. alt. 2,003 ft" signs you see when driving through small towns in mountainous areas.

Nice, and I'm not OK with that :) I have no intention of having another thing that requires recharging, I've already got my phone. Glad to see different people needing different features from a phone, though.

No. Teardowns have shown nothing of that sort. It's a marketing decision to push people to buy $170 airpods. In fact, there's a very popular tech blogger's video where he successfully adds in a headphone jack[1] to his iPhone 8.

How are people being "pushed" to buy Airpods when they can use any Bluetooth headphone, the headphones that come bundled with the phone, or use their own headphones with a $9.99 adapter that they have included up until yesterday?


Simple. There are multiple codecs in Bluetooth headphones, the most used one is proprietary aptX from Qualcomm. Apple has no problems licensing it for Macbooks and iMacs, but for iPhones they chose to reject Qualcomm, do their thing, and use AAC codec, which is supported only by small fraction of wireless headphones. https://darko.audio/2017/12/how-to-enable-aptx-hd-bluetooth-...

So, if your headphones don't support AAC, they will (most likely) fallback to SBC encoding with a subpar sound quality. Don't want a subpar sound quality? Buy Airpods. Or Beats. Or some other overpriced thing that understands AAC. There was some 100 year-old industry standard regarding sound transmission, but apparently it's "obsolete" now, because Apple said so. And bundled headphones don't sound too good.

The removal of headphone jack was purely a political decision to spite Qualcomm and screwing over Apple's customers.


So now it’s a bad thing that Apple chose to support an industry standard (AAC) instead of a proprietary Qualcomm only protocol?

But if you aren’t satisfied with the Apple wired headphones, up until the 12th Apple bundle an adapter, you could choose any wired headphones you wanted. After the 12” it would be $9.99. It’s still not forcing you to buy AirPods.

As far as Bluetooth, there are other non Apple/Beats Bluetooth AAC headphones. Nothing forcing anyone to buy them from Apple.


> It's a marketing decision to push people to buy $170 airpods

FWIW, my lack of headphone jack had nothing to do with me buying $170 airpods. The product sells itself. It literally felt like something out of the future when it launched. Opening and closing the lid makes me happy on a daily basis. I can't think of a better use for that $170. It's a product that is pure joy to use, and completely eliminates one of the biggest annoyance factor in my daily life: tangled headphones, and worse, that feeling on your ears when you accidentally tug earbuds that are in your ear. So frustrating!


Re: water resistance – Sony is pretty good there too, but last time I plunged my phone, the headphone jack itself was acting up until it had dried out. I guess there's no way around that.

Edit: Oh, and when I broke my older model with saltwater, they replaced it. Twice.


They cost $160, but you can use the included headphones without buying anything.

It’s most often not features I want change but features I want to have in the first place: Proper PWAs, NFC, wireless charging (things Android has for an while now). Self signed apps.

Have you looked into CopperheadOS[1]? I would like to hear your thoughts on it. They even have a store where you can buy Pixel phones flashed with CopperheadOS. They're a bit pricey though ($1000+). I personally would rather flash it myself to save some money.

[1] https://copperhead.co


CopperheadOS is a very questionable choice these days. The author lost control of the company and was booted by the business tool.

https://www.reddit.com/r/CopperheadOS/comments/8qdnn3/goodby...


Anything new on that front that you have heard? I remember the meltdown but haven't heard anything since. Looks like the business guy is just continuing to sell what they had and then no updates ever. Once people get sick of that, maybe the company just goes away?

No clue. As I understand it, the author destroyed the signing keys, so updates aren't even possible. A fresh build with new signing keys would need to be flashed out of band.

The original author stated his intent to fork and resume the project under a new name and with a new device set, but probably still the Pixel line.

Didn't the license prevent forks?

I think he claims he owns the copyright; if that's true, the license doesn't apply to him.

That's a bold claim when he was being paid a salary to work on it.

Was he? His claim is: "I have never had any employment agreement, copyright agreement, licensing agreement, NDA or even work contracts with Copperhead. There was a mutual understanding that I owned the code I was writing."

Work for hire doctrine says he has aa very poor argument.

Work for hire is a statutorily defined term (17 U.S.C. § 101), so a work for hire is not created merely because parties to an agreement state that the work is a work for hire. It is an exception to the general rule that the person who actually creates a work is the legally recognized author of that work. According to copyright law in the United States and certain other copyright jurisdictions, if a work is "made for hire", the employer—not the employee—is considered the legal author.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_for_hire


I can't think of a context where a judge looks at a salaried CTO commiting code to repositories with the same name as the company, in inarguably the core domain of the company, and shipped in the name of the company by said CTO, with nothing written down to the contrary and goes "oh yeah, that's totally his code, not the company's".

I think Daniel's in the process of learning that verbal agreements don't mean anything when the shit hits the fan. IMO that's what he gets for switching to a non copyleft license.


I made an alternative to CopperheadOS after it fell apart for those interested: https://github.com/dan-v/rattlesnakeos-stack. Rather than providing random binaries of an OS to install on your phone, I've gone the route of creating a cross platform tool, rattlesnakeos-stack, that provisions all of the AWS infrastructure needed to continuously build your own personal RattlesnakeOS, with your own signing keys, and your own OTA updates. It uses AWS Lambda to provision EC2 Spot Instances that build RattlesnakeOS and upload artifacts to S3. Resulting OS builds are configured to receive over the air updates from this environment.

That's very cool! It's a shame that I'm unlikely to own a Pixel device any time soon, but for those who do this looks really interesting.

Copperhead is a great idea! Biggest issues I had with it when I was looking at it was, lack of recent up to date hardware. The Pixel was a great phone but it's getting to be a pretty old phone, the pixel 3 will be out soon. Second and much bigger issue is the lack of apps because SO many Android apps require the google play services and if you enable that you lose the vast majority of the privacy benefits you gain from Copperhead and fdroid. If you don't use apps or just a few that support fdroid, then Copperhead might be a great choice.

"The Pixel was a great phone but it's getting to be a pretty old phone"

How so? I just upgraded to a Pixel 2 XL from a phone much older than the pixel, a Nexus 6. I would not have even upgraded so soon if I didnt up with one too many crack on my screen when it gave up.


> SO many Android apps require the google play services

It depends on definition of 'require'. Almost all apps 'require' it in app manifest file. But very many of them actually works perfectly fine with an absense of Google Play Services on device.


I am a senior app developer and I love some of the features that come with a smartphone (google photos often feels like magic) but I have got to admit, I am tempted to just dump my personal phone and only have one in a drawer to work on.

Yea, I'm thinking of ditching my sim card or living mostly in airplane mode with wifi. I don't want to be part of a system where even the cell phone carriers are selling my real time location.

You do realize location tracking via wifi broadcasts (not even AP association!) is a thing, right?

http://digitalmortar.com/overview-in-store-tracking-technolo...

You'll be part of the system as long as you have a phone.

(...and as long as you have a face, if projections are to be believed.)


Yea, it's pretty awful. Beyond that you also have to trust that the phone is doing what it says (not broadcasting wifi beacons when wifi is off). A faraday caged messenger bag has been on my list for stuff to make. I've also been trying to think of an acceptable mask to wear in public and I saw someone on my train home with a mirrored face visor. [1] No time soon, but good to keep in mind. License plates are pretty bad too, photography in public is legal, so anyone could set up a dense enough camera network and track you everywhere you go via license plate. The most obvious case would be governments processing the video / images from cameras on traffic lights.

1. https://www.amazon.com/_/dp/B073WB4KSF


> Either you choose a somewhat open platform, or you choose privacy

Huh? Isn't Linux (the original one, not derivates like Android) relatively private, while being completely open?


I think the parent was implicitly referring to smartphone platforms. Certainly Linux is both the most open and most private option for general computing, which is probably why the parent was lamenting the fact that privacy and openness (in smartphones) are not tightly coupled.

Sure, but on any decent phone, the only Linux you're going to get is Android.

What's wrong with openness of Android flavour of Linux, called AOSP? Yes, the hardware drivers are mostly binary blobs, but there are many binary blob drivers for PC and other hardware on Linux.

puri.sm Librem5 .. almost there.

Android itself is "open", but if you want to do much with it, you want it with Google Apps.

If by 'to do much with it' you mean asking the weather by voice, then yes. Otherwise, F-Droid provides open-source alternatives for many apps, and then many apps from Google Play Market actually work fine without Google Play Services.

"As it is today I can not buy a phone without having a deep bottomless disdain for it."

I feel the same way, but I don't feel negatively about it.

I have an iPhone and I treat it like a hostile/suspect device and that is working quite well for me.

Apple has no idea who I am - I have never even typed my own name into the phone. Apple doesn't even know my phone number as my "real" phone number is one I control and forward to the burner SIM (straighttalk) that is in the phone.

My actual phone provider (twilio) doesn't know who I am.

Straighttalk doesn't know who I am - they got an assumed name and email address. Same for the very, very few apps that I use.[1]

So unless Apple decides to acquire twilio and whatever verizon MVNO I am using this quarter and my credit card issuer, all they've got is Fakey McFakefake.

None of this was difficult, aside from building my own carrier inside twilio, but that was fun.

[1] Remember: VISA/MC do not verify names on purchases. The user interface strongly suggests that they do, but they do not - if you correctly enter your number/expiry/CVV/zipcode/etc., you can put in any old name you want. There is really no reason for any app to know your real name.


> Either you choose a somewhat open platform, or you choose privacy.

That's a terribly wrong dichotomie


It's true for smartphones. If you choose privacy AND open source then you're either making sacrifices or doing something "hacky". Most people want to have their mainstream apps available and don't want to learn how to install a new OS on an Android phone.

I.e., you wall yourself into your own garden that you aren't conceivably going to want to maintain and that no one cares to build apps for.

iOS and Android are the choices. I say pick your poison. If a new choice comes along, I don't see any reason for the dynamics to be any different. People want high quality well-integrated electronics, and you only get that by being beholden to the manufacturer.


...but those who do get more privacy than those who try to buy their privacy from Apple. In other words, Apple is an option for those who a) don't want to learn and don't have access to someone who can do the job for them, who b) trust Apple when they say they will guard their privacy and c) can afford to make these choices.

By the way, the time when installing an alternative Android distribution on your phone was 'hacky' is past for many devices, several distributions offer OTA updates so it is perfectly possible to run a mostly-open device without ever having to do anything 'hackish'.

As to whether an always-on radio beacon transmitting your location to the authorities can ever be seen as a plus in a privacy context remains to be seen of course, that is something which can not be fixed by either AOSP or Apple.


What are you proposing as the real-world alternative?

> Either you choose a somewhat open platform, or you choose privacy

Those who would give up essential Openness, to purchase a little temporary Privacy, deserve neither Openness nor Privacy. -Benjamin Franklin


I think it's a strong selling point they repeat for last 3 years on every chance they get. Like how everything is done on device, encryption, nothing is stored on cloud and so on.

There's nothing on the market now that I'd actually like to buy.

Apple do seem to have some respect for privacy at the moment, but it's still a phone that scans the user's face (far too creepy for me) or makes it difficult to restrict outgoing connections (I'm not keen on apps connecting to flurry, facebook and so on).


FaceID does not scan a user's face.

Upon enrollment, the phone illuminates your face with a grid of dots, and creates a three dimensional depth map of your face from multiple angles.

The results of that are stored in the secure enclave, and when an unlock is requested the device re-scans the face that is in front of it. If the two maps match "close enough" the phone is unlocked.

You cannot recreate a face from the data, and the phone has no idea what you look like unless you actually look like this in real life: https://i.imgur.com/fNBiIUU.jpg

If you're worried about the very low resolution biometric map of your face being used to impersonate you, that can already be accomplished with just a couple of seconds of video, or a photograph and the only known defense against that is never venturing outside a secure perimeter into which camera lenses cannot see.


iOS has fantastic support for ad blockers and network proxies that make it INCREDIBLY easy to block outgoing connections. In my experience it works far better than Androids version of that.

Face tracking for faceId you can turn off but I agree it can be creepy. So far it's been limited to only on the device and encrypted so I've been ok with it but that's obviously a very personal choice.


There are some useful products but I wouldn't call it fantastic compared with my experiences on Android, e.g. where I can root the device and use a hosts file for system-wide blocking. VPN options are good there too, in my experience, though this may be another case of personal preference.

Adguard works rather well, but Apple doesn't seem too keen on their product:

https://adguard.com/en/blog/adguard-pro-discontinued/

Of course, there's ad blocking in Safari but tracker blocking in apps also concerns me.

As for the FaceID I would indeed turn it off and use a PIN, but it would be a bit of a faff; a fingerprint plus a means to quickly turn that off is quite convenient.


Could you please provide an example of these proxies that one could use to block outgoing connections? I'm only aware of Ad-blockers that do so for incoming ones.

The only solution I have found is to run an OpenVPN server at home and stay connected to it constantly. I lose a microscopically-minuscule amount of battery life, and a few percentage points of WAN throughput but it is worth it.

I then have content rules on the firewall between the OpenVPN server and the Internet.

As an added benefit, this makes the monitoring done by all cellphone providers (not just Verizon!) irrelevant because all they see is a constant, 24x7 stream of encrypted traffic to the same IP address.


As said down chat Charles Proxy is the one that I use, mostly because I've used it on macOS for years and trust the developer. It works great and has turned up SO many apps doing gross things. There are others in the store but I've never personally used them.

Charles: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/charles-proxy/id1134218562?m...

Another that I have heard of but not used (your milage may vary and all that): Alice https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alice-network-proxy-utility/...

You can also run a proxy on a server remotely and intercept all the network calls from your phone, something burp is common in the security industry. It's under your network settings, HTTP Proxy. It's more limited than an app like Charles that inspects all traffic but it's another option.


Not OP, but Charles Proxy came to mind: https://www.charlesproxy.com/documentation/ios/

I think it's come up here a few times, with various anecdotes about surfacing badly behaving apps.


Charles is the one I use but there are several in the App Store.

Unfortunately Apple seems to have taken a couple steps back from supporting good ad-blocking tools. They forced AdGuard to cripple their iOS app to only allow DNS-based blocking instead of the superior local VPN blocking.

You don't need an "app" to support VPNs. All they do is make set up somewhat simpler. iOS has built in support for VPNs. Once you have the configuration information, you can set it up yourself from settings.

VPN is maybe the wrong word. He's talking about running deep packet inspection locally, which is possible on Android, instead of on a dedicated VPN server.

It's also possible on iOS, a couple of Proxy apps do so.

Which?

That face scan is on-device. And you can turn that off.

> Though I think apples "pro privacy" stance is likely just a happy accident I tend to agree.

Don’t underestimate the lure of ad money, even to a company as large as Apple. They realize the second you start taking ad money your customers are no longer your customers, but your product.


I think his point about the "happy accident" is that iAds failed and that's part of why Apple is now "pro privacy."

This seems backwards though. iAds failed because Apple was pro-privacy - iAds targeting features essentially didn't exist because they didn't collect any data.

Yep, the saying is generally that if you don't pay for something, you're the product.

But I've noticed that more and more, even when you do pay for something there's a good chance your data will still get sold.


Yep. See also: Every credit card transaction you make.

If you're curious about the reality of what actual privacy and/or security you are offered by Apple's products, you might be interested in Apple's guidelines for law enforcement requests. There's lots of info at https://www.apple.com/ca/privacy/government-information-requ... and there are two PDFs at the bottom outlining their ability to provide user data in different situations.

They also summarize the security of iCloud services, delineated by "in transit" and "on server", here: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT202303

I wanted to actually call out one important detail in the latter link above: "iCloud secures your information by encrypting it when it's in transit, storing it in iCloud in an encrypted format, and using secure tokens for authentication. For certain sensitive information, Apple uses end-to-end encryption. This means that only you can access your information, and only on devices where you’re signed into iCloud. No one else, not even Apple, can access end-to-end encrypted information."

So, we can discern that anything you store on iCloud that isn't using end-to-end encryption can be accessed by Apple. This includes (but is not limited to) Contacts, Photos, Notes, device Backups, and everything you're storing on iCloud Drive.


I started using cryptomator (https://cryptomator.org/) to encrypt iCloud files client-side. Has cross-platform apps, and works with Touch Id, so it doesn't come with the hassle of copying in a decryption key every time you need to access files.

What about data retention? If I delete one of those things is it gone for good?

I'm not sure. I couldn't find anything about how long data remains kicking around after you "delete" it. I assume anything I ever store on iCloud is stored permanently, _somewhere_, but who knows?

Can't device backups be password encrypted?

Yeah, they can indeed. However, device backups are separate from storing your Photos, Contacts, etc. in iCloud. :)

Or set up a proxy server and count the thousands of https calls home (per minute). At least on mac startup.

Sorry to be so negative, but this is just BS. Short of a legally binding statement from Apple stating exactly what information they collect and who they sell it to, then you're just assuming they aren't collecting and selling your data. Of course their terms of service explicitly give them permissions to collect any information they want and sell it to anyone they want, which should be a big clue that they're doing it.

This article is solely about Apple making it harder for 3rd party apps and websites to track you. That's certainly a good thing, but the downside is that it just makes the data Apple has (or can have) far more valuable, which only increases the likelihood that they're collecting and selling a lot of data.

This article is just one guy speculating about his thoughts, and he was possibly paid to do it by Apple. If Apple wants to make privacy a selling point for their products, they would no doubt seize the opportunity to do so very loudly. And, if it's not Apple saying it, then it's not legally binding.


> If Apple wants to make privacy a selling point for their products, they would no doubt seize the opportunity to do so very loudly.

They have definitely been doing this over the past four or five years and certainly claim they aren't selling your data: https://www.apple.com/privacy/


That just raises the suspicion for me. That website is a far cry from "We don't collect your data, we don't sell any information about you". Instead, the closest they get is with the statement below:

"Whether you’re taking a photo, asking Siri a question, or getting directions, you can do it knowing that Apple doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations."

That only applies to two things, taking a photo and asking Siri a question. It does not prohibit them from collecting the data for their own use. And does not prohibit them from selling analysis of that data.


At the bottom of that page there are links to more information.

https://www.apple.com/privacy/approach-to-privacy/

> Your iOS device can collect analytics about your iOS device and any paired Apple Watch and send it to Apple for analysis. The collected information does not identify you personally and can be sent to Apple only with your explicit consent.

You have to opt in to analytics collection when you set up the device and in Settings>Privacy>Analytics>Analytics Data you can examine or download everything which has been sent to Apple.

If you take Apple at their word that they're only collecting what they say they are, they're not bad.


You do explicitly consent when you agree to the terms of service. Additionally, further down in the paragraph you quoted:

"When it’s collected, personal data is either not logged at all, removed from reports before they’re sent to Apple, or protected by techniques such as Differential Privacy."

And the fact that you can download the data unquestionably proves that it can be traced back to you. I think you're just seeing what you want to see, and aren't paying attention to all of the loopholes they create for themselves.


> And the fact that you can download the data unquestionably proves that it can be traced back to you.

Not necessarily.


Apple has repeatedly and loudly talked about privacy up to and including Tim Cook saying the privacy is a "basic human right". Also it's quite easy to see what data is being sent from your phone, just hook it up to a proxy, ala Burp or Charles. It will dump all network communication from the phone and were it's going to. Here is a paper about the difference in data collection and how it's measured: https://digitalcontentnext.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/DC...

I think they make a point of this fairly regularly, double blind machine learning (apologies if this is the wrong phrase..) and also on device facial recognicitan - ie. not on apples servers (as in Google’s / facebooks case).

I think it is highly unlikely to come out that they are selling company data. Look at all the comments that Tim Cook made about Facebook - that he wouldn’t be in that situation as it would compromise his morals etc..


> Short of a legally binding statement from Apple stating exactly what information they collect and who they sell it to, then you're just assuming they aren't collecting and selling your data.

Does the GDPR not require this?


Their strong selling point is to protect data. Apple makes money on their devices and Appstore, not on your data, how does Google.

If Apple wants to make privacy a selling point for their products, they would no doubt seize the opportunity to do so very loudly.

At the recent iPhone / Watch launch event a few days ago, Apple COO Jeff Williams stood on stage with a single word backdrop "Privacy" and said:

"At Apple we believe your personal information belongs to you, you should decide who you share your information with and who gets to see it. Period. All your (Watch) health and fitness data is encrypted on the device and in the cloud".

- https://youtu.be/wFTmQ27S7OQ?t=1673

That's not a legally binding statement from Apple stating exactly what they collect, but it certainly is Apple making privacy a selling point and doing so very loudly.


At the start of my career (when I haven't been earning that much money) Android phones were easier to access, because they were cheaper. At first it baffled my mind at which scale Google is able to provide services for free, but the more experience I personally gained, the more I realised at which cost, my privacy.

Answers to my questions why apple products are way more expensive, even compared to devices with similar features and hardware specs, remained pretty superficial "it's that way" or "apple is just better" weren't obviously satisfying. Blinded by my own conclusion that apple products just sell because of apple fanboyism I remained with google.

Now, in the year of 2018 were everyone is interested in your data im still pretty wishy-washy of getting an iPhone but recent news drive me towards it. But in the end it might be a decision between pest or cholera.


The total cost of ownership for Apple products is, for some calculations, less than other products.

It obviously depends a lot on how much you care about software updates, how gently you treat your device, etc. But if you’re the sort of person who buys a new phone every two years and sells your old phone, the resale value of the old phone tends to be high enough that the costs look about the same as reasonably comparable domestically available devices.

If you’re buying your phone straight from China, or don’t care much about high-end phone features, your mileage may vary.


I wish Privacy was a bigger deal to people I knew. Apple, despite it's faults, is doing really incredible work at raising the bar for privacy. I know so many technical folks who just shrug when privacy comes up. It's amazing to me that people can just seem to not care. I know that awareness is rising but so many people are willing to trade a little money for something they can never reclaim. It seem so short sighted.

> I know so many technical folks who just shrug when privacy comes up.

Or as many in this thread do, preach complicated (and often broken in practice) processes and tooling that might theoretically protect ones data, but require Stallman's PC levels of configuration and not actually get anything done while Apple's UX does.

The fact that (for the moment) the top comments are all software engineers giving up and advocating for dumbphones is a laughable abdication of responsibility/competence/design.


Well, why should they care? I hear so many hypotheticals about why the privacy invasion is bad, but I have heard very few people give real examples of actual harm.

Most people aren't going to care about things until it effects them in some way.


look at china’s social credit system

Can you explain China's social credit system? This is the first I've heard of it.

the state tracks your economic activity and personal behavior and habits and uses them to calculate something akin to a credit score, but which is used to restrict civil rights (travel, education opportunities, etc) if you are perceived as unreliable.

> From the program, the Chinese SCS will be fully implemented starting in 2020 and will be made mandatory for every citizen. Once implemented, every citizen will be rewarded, or punished, on the basis of their behavior. Some types of punishments can be: flight ban, exclusion from private schools, slow internet connection, exclusion from high prestige work, exclusion from hotel, registration on a public blacklist.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System


Google left China, Apple crashes your phone when you get a Taiwanese flag (in China), who cares about privacy? Never Apple. Apple only cares about your money. If you care about privacy (I mean really care) use Replicant.

(updated spelling)


It shouldn't be surprising that people are willing to give up an abstract concept in return for tangible benefits.

Apple delete apps which send telemetry to Chinese servers (2-3 days old news), Google don't care.

So, Android devices sucks with privacy and cheap space to farming to other companies. Heard some Chinese companies sell phones with ad injections in default apps.


This seems awfully alarmist. There are a ton of apps that send telemetry to AWS servers in the US, and from there they could easily send the data back to China. Amazon doesn't care. Apple doesn't care about hosting your app's backend on AWS.

Network filtering isn't going to protect your privacy from anyone. If Apple (or Google) were really serious, they'd require app developers to have a privacy policy and have them post a bond in case they violate the policy. (They'd also need to audit every application backend to ensure that it's not sending data back to China.)

Nobody would write apps with this sort of policy in place... so here we are. If you really think the Chinese government is out to get you, which is a very real concern, I would not use any apps on your phone. The app developers do not care about your safety, and neither does Apple.


Apple will actually require all developers to have a privacy policy by October 3rd.

http://fortune.com/2018/09/01/apple-app-store-privacy-policy...

And having developers post a bond is logistically impossible to implement. Far better just to have Apple kick them off the store entirely. Which is what they do already.


Facebook has had a privacy policy requirement for all Facebook apps since they started their app platform.

It's quite amazing that Apple has not added this simple requirement to their app store until now.


> Far better just to have Apple kick them off the store entirely. Which is what they do already.

Or if you're big enough like Uber, just get a firm warning and be told to stop doing whatever it is that's wrong.


> Apple will actually require all developers to have a privacy policy by October 3rd.

A year and a half after their more privacy-conscious competition but good progress: https://www.iubenda.com/blog/privacy-policy-for-android-app/...

> And having developers post a bond is logistically impossible to implement.

Require a credit card at publisher signup. Explain it will be charged for violations.


>their more privacy-conscious competition

I don't want to assume you're trolling, but this is literally the first time I've heard anyone ever say Google is more privacy conscious than Apple.


That's the power of marketing for you. One required privacy policies while the other didn't. One asks before enabling AGPS data collection, while the other doesn't even let you opt out. One allows you to use on-device maps as default, while the other doesn't. One allows you to replace the default SMS app with Signal, while the other doesn't.

When you think of a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities, you probably don't think of Apple either, even though its App Store infected more users with malware than all its competitors combined. https://researchcenter.paloaltonetworks.com/2015/09/malware-...


You’re either being extremely disingenuous here, or are missing/leaving out some important and relevant details.

The malware you’re referring to—XcodeGhost—was produced by compromised non-Apple copies of Xcode installers downloaded by (mostly) Chinese developers from non-Apple (Baidu) servers, who then produced iOS apps with the non-Apple Xcode. The modified copies of Xcode would inject malware into iOS app builds. The link you provided says nothing about actual numbers of end users with malware infections, much less that there were more users infected than all Apple’s competitors combined. It merely suggests potential number of users who could be affected if they installed known compromised versions of apps built with the non-Apple Xcode—and it provides no methodology for what these estimates of total potentially affected users is based on.

Privacy policies do nothing to actually protect user privacy. Facebook’s requiring of privacy policies hasn’t protected users or the company from multiple privacy fiascos.

What GPS data collection are you referring to here? Apple-collected data stays on user devices. Third-party apps are granted permission (or not) to use location services however they see fit. Location services can be disabled entirely. What third parties do with your location data is between you and them, not Apple.

iMessage being replaceable by Signal or any other app as a default messaging app says nothing about Apple’s commitment to user privacy. You are free to use Signal.


I am not being disingenuous. You simply don't understand what I said.

The best outside estimates show XCodeGhost infected at least 400 million users. That estimate is from knowing which apps were infected and using publicly available estimates for their users. Apple didn't say how many exactly (or even warn its users about the malware) because Apple only pays lip service to security for marketing purposes.

> Privacy policies do nothing to actually protect user privacy.

You disagree with Apple on this then.

> What GPS data collection are you referring to here?

I told you exactly what data collection I was referring to there. Apple (not third parties) collects GPS data from user's phones to run its AGPS service. Unlike Android, which has an opt-in for this, Apple doesn't even let you opt out.

> You are free to use Signal.

But not as your default SMS app. Instead, you have to use Apple's closed source and unverified app.


> Heard some Chinese companies sell phones with ad injections in default apps.

Don't need Chinese companies for that. When GDPR came into effect I received privacy policy msgs from adware (Foursquare) inside my standard Samsung Image Gallery. Not only Google, but Samsung as well is a horrible privacy nightmare.


> Heard some Chinese companies sell phones with ad injections in default apps.

Yep. I bought a cheap tablet off of Amazon with the only use for it needing to be able to read digital textbooks at close to their equivalent physical size. This was back when tablets larger than 7" were crazy expensive. This one wasn't.

It has so many ads injected into and between apps (full-screen popups on app change) that it's unusable for anything other than reading static content (which is luckily what I bought it for). Response time is on par with a 1st-gen Kindle.

I thought I'd be cute and implement DNS adblocking at the router level but that just causes crashes and hangs since they didn't see a need to implement a graceful failure mode for the ad callbacks.


I see a lot of websites that should have graceful failures do the same... can't log into one of my banks, and make a car payment without disabling uBlock (chrome/desktop) or Brave (android).

With the more recent changes in Firefox, I find the UX acceptable and may go through switching back... I've got a few things on google but may migrate out.


Well, at least you can easily get free/libre apps (without Chinese spyware) on Android with F-droid[0].

It would be more accurate to say that Google Play sucks.

[0]: https://f-droid.org/


> Heard some Chinese companies sell phones with ad injections in default apps.

Cubot is a good example[1]:

"However, it was discovered that Cubot had removed the malware from the System UI package and hidden it under a new package, com.android.telephone, disguised as the phone dialer. On further digging, it was discovered that the new package does not have any real function and it manages to evade any detection by antivirus apps such as NetGuard, that would detect the malware under System UI previously."

[1] https://techweez.com/2017/09/19/cubot-malware/


Or Dogee T5. It wakes you up at night with the noisy ads. terrible. It would be a quite good phone, but not. useless. One of the adwares is in the wireless update system app, others I don't remember already where are they exactly, but in system apps.

Those are bottom of the barrel brands and the specs are pretty bad.

The only thing they have is low prices.


Umidigi[1] could also be added to the list, even though the phones are quite impressive on paper.

[1] http://www.umidigi.com/


Yeah, like Lenovo which sells laptops with preinstalled adware and MitM attacks.

Good point but they still make best laptops IMHO. I "eat" so many Toshibas, Sonys, Acers, even two Macs with Windows 7 on it...

The nice thing is they still give you drivers even to Windows 7.

When I get new Lenovo laptop, I immediately throw away their drive, put a bigger one and install Windows 7 from scratch.


When I get new Lenovo laptop, I immediately throw away their drive, put a bigger one and install Windows 7 from scratch.

At least for some time, this was not good enough. The shipped crap/spyware in the firmware and exploited Windows Platform Binary Table to inject their spyware into freshly installed Windows. So, even a clean disk and an official Windows CD didn't evade the spyware:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/12/lenovo_firmware_nas...

Luckily, desktop Linux/BSD is probably too obscure to be on their radar.



That's disgusting. I wish this were illegal, because people deserve to be in jail over this.

That's incredibly abusive.

You can install XPrivacy [1] on your Android device. You cannot do that with Apple device.

[1] https://forum.xda-developers.com/xposed/modules/xprivacylua6...


You don't need to. Unlike early versions of Android and apps that still link to older versions, with iOS, you have never had a list of permissions you had to accept before launching the app. The app ask permission when you need a feature and you can deny it the permission. After it asks once (three times?), it will never ask for the permission again and you have to go to settings to enable the permission.

You have a point but are also mistaken. XPrivacy does way more granular access checks than Android or iOS provide. The downside is, it's not casual user-friendly.

With XPrivacy you're able (or used to be able - I'm not sure if it works on recent Android versions) control things like how apps can use WebViews (e.g. what URLs they are allowed to open there), or whenever app is allowed to read or write (all separately) clipboard data. Etc etc.


I’m looking at a list of permissions here:

https://github.com/M66B/XPrivacy/blob/master/README.md

Most of these permissions either require individual consent after you run the app (and can be revoked in settings) or aren’t allowed under any circumstances.

The exceptions I see are:

Clipboard

Internet access (you can block cellular internet access on iOS and 3rd party keyboards can be blocked from allowing any network access)

Prevent links from opening in a view - depending on which type of web view that an app uses, the native content blocking framework that third party ad blockers use for Safari also work in the WebView. For instance, the ad blocker I have installed works with Feedly - my RSS reader.

The only sensor I think that can be blocked is the GPS.


XPrivacy is not about blocking, it's about faking.

PrivacyGuard in LineageOS is about blocking.


How is “faking” it better than just not allowing it all? iOS Developers have had to handle being denied permissions gracefully since 2008.

some apps don't work if the permissions are blocked. With xprivacy you can tell them

My phone number is 000 000 000 and my email is fuck@you.com

and they work fine then


And iOS doesn’t need that bandaid. App developers have been developing with the expectation that their apps could be denied permissions they request since day one.

Except for stuff that iOS doesn't ask and even implement a permission for. Like UIDevice.identifierForVendor.

Yes, you have more privacy with xprivacy, but at the same time, for running it, you need root access and install xposed, so you get +10 points for privacy and -5000 for security

Do you have a root access on your Linux PC? Does it add -5000 for security?

I have and I don't give access to root to my software. Also on my linux computer I can patch the very same moment there is a vulnerability, on my phone I can only patch security fixes when the manufacturer wants and only usually for 1 or 2 years.

Also, have you really audited the code of xposed and xprivacy to see that there isn't any single security flaw that expose your whole phone?


Android !== OnePlus

I'm tempted to move from Android to an Apple phone partly for that reason.

I'm tired of the endless android situations where an app seems to be able to do whatever regardless of permissions... and permissions can't really be managed anyway. I also don't belive Google will ever get a handle on those permissions / privacy, they just don't care to.

It doesn't help that google killed the nexus line and now we have pixels that are premium priced anyway so I may as well consider Apple where I didn't before.

The camera is also a big deal to me so a lot of the "hey it's not a pixel but" options just don't do it for me.


The ability to install an ad blocker natively on the default browser is the reason I switched, and cannot stand androids anymore (after 5 android phones previously).

You can install system-wide adblockers on Android. This is not possible with iOS without running a separate proxy server like pi-hole.

If you jailbreak it iirc though

No "jailbreak" required on Android. Just implement the VpnService API. https://github.com/blokadaorg/blokada/blob/master/app/src/ma...

You can do this on iOS as well, but not for App Store apps.

So if you rebuild every week or pay Apple a yearly fee for the privilege of blocking ads on your own phone.

Unfortunately your only option is to pay Apple, since you cannot develop VPN extensions on a free account.

It's surprising to me that an easy-to-use set of scripts to do this for you hasn't popped up (to my knowledge). When Apple initially offered the "zero cost but you have to rebuild every week" solution, I was sure there'd be an idiot-proof solution to make that seamless within a few days.

Cydia Impactor can do this on-device, IIRC. But you still need to launch the app.

On Android, you can set Firefox as the default browser and configure uBlock as an add-on.

Default browser doesn't effect in-app browser frames which are becoming more and more common - half of webpages will be in chrome anyway.

I believe you can swap out the system webview as well?

Firefox Focus shipped with GeckoView[1] only yesterday.

[1] https://hacks.mozilla.org/2018/09/focus-with-geckoview/


System-wide VPN ad blockers work in WebViews.

What are you using to block ads?

I'm using Purify, but here's a 2018 thread on other available blockers: https://www.reddit.com/r/ios/comments/8bo5v9/best_ad_blocker...

Some it appears also does some dns trickery to disable ads in apps.


Edit: this actually became a bit off topic..

I say this as an old apple fanboy. The apple products are by far the best privacy wise, but I recommend against them anyway. I like Mac os, but feel I can't pay apple any more money.

I have repaired enough phones and computers to recommend people to not use apple. Unless you there is a class action lawsuit they won't extend warranty, even for obviously faulty products.

The last 2 years I have fixed more than 5 broken macbooks that Apple refused to fix for less than $400 with 10 minute solder jobs, and I'm just a hobbyist helping friends. Two of them were fixing issues that Apple had already "fixed" by doing what could be called the worst solder jobs of the century (one was actually just using a rubber pad to push a chip in place instead of doing a proper resolder. According to the guy linked later in this post this was apples official fix :( :( :( ...)

Don't take my word for it, though:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AUaJ8pDlxi8&t=0s&index=3&list=...


I really haven't had much better support on my boot loop 5x... granted I love the 5x's size and form factor.

Manuy manufacturers have followed apples lead (soldered SSDs and batteries and devices that won't open).

I wouldn't go for those devices either. The Nexus 5 (not s. I don't know that one) is very easy to open and replace parts in (at least as far as phones go),but finding someone that can properly diagnose it and fix it can be hard.


I duno, it's not like android devices were known for long warranties and service before apple... many were lucky to get a major firmware update at all...

Of course not, but for bigger brands and popular models repair shops can actually keep official parts in-store, something that Apple don't allow (even for apple stores).

I am not saying that andoid is all roses, but many devices are still realpairable even though things are going in the wrong direction.

When an iPhones warranty is up, apple has been trying their hardest to make fixing your device impossible.

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