Category: operating systems

June 4, 2019 Off

With antitrust investigations looming, Apple reverses course on bans of parental control apps

By Jill T Frey

With congressional probes and greater scrutiny from federal regulators on the horizon, Apple has abruptly reversed course on its bans of parental control apps available in its app store.

As reported by The New York Times, Apple quietly updated its App Store guidelines to reverse its decision to ban certain parental control apps.

The battle between Apple and certain app developers dates back to last year when the iPhone maker first put companies on notice that it would cut their access to the app store if they didn’t make changes to their monitoring technologies.

The heart of the issue is the use of mobile device management (MDM) technologies in the parental control apps that Apple has removed from the App Store, Apple said in a statement earlier this year.

These device management tools give to a third party control … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Aptoide, a Play Store rival, cries antitrust foul over Google hiding its app

By Jill T Frey

As US regulators gear up to launch another antitrust probe of Google’s business, an alternative Android app store is dialling up its long time complaint of anti-competitive behavior against the search and smartphone OS giant.

Portugal-based Aptoide is launching a campaign website to press its case and call for Google to “Play Fair” — accusing Mountain View of squeezing consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their preferred app store”.

Aptoide filed its first EU antitrust complaint against Google all the way back in 2014, joining a bunch of other complainants crying foul over how Google was operating Android.

And while the European Commission did eventually step in, slapping Google with a $5BN penalty for antitrust abuses last summer after a multi-year investigation, rivals continue to complain the Android maker still isn’t playing fair.

In the case of Aptoide, the alternative Android app store says Google has … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

iOS 13 will let you limit app location access to ‘just once’

By Jill T Frey

Apple will soon let you grant apps access to your iPhone’s location just once.

Until now, there were three options — “always,” “never,” or “while using,” meaning an app could be collecting your real-time location as you’re using it.

Apple said the “just once” location access is a small change — granted — but one that’s likely to appeal to the more privacy-minded folk.

“For the first time, you can share your location to an app — just once — and then require it to ask you again next time at wants,” said Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi at its annual developer conference on Monday.

That’s going to be helpful for those who download an app that requires your immediate location, but you don’t want to give it persistent or ongoing access to your whereabouts.

On top of that, Apple said that the apps that you do grant location … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Slack narrows losses, displays healthy revenue growth

By Jill T Frey

Workplace messaging powerhouse Slack filed an amended S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday weeks ahead of a direct listing expected June 20.

In the document, Slack included an updated look at its path to profitability, posting first-quarter revenues of $134.8 million on losses of $31.8 million. Slack’s Q1 revenues represent a 67% increase from the same period last year when the company lost $24.8 million on $80.9 million in revenue.

For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2019, the company reported losses of $138.9 million on revenue of $400.6 million. That’s compared to a loss of $140.1 million on revenue of $220.5 million the year prior.

Slack is in the process of completing the final steps necessary for its direct listing on The New York Stock Exchange, where it will trade under the ticker symbol “WORK.” A direct listing is an alternative approach to the stock … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Microsoft warns users to patch as exploits for ‘wormable’ BlueKeep bug appear

By Jill T Frey

Microsoft has issued its second advisory this month urging users to update their systems to prevent a re-run of attacks similar to WannaCry.

The software giant said Thursday that the recently discovered “wormable” vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services for Windows can allow attackers to remotely run code on a vulnerable computer — such as malware or ransomware. Worse, the vulnerability allows it to spread to other computers on the same network “in a similar way as the WannaCry malware,” which spread across the globe in 2017 causing billions of dollars in damage.

A patch was released earlier this month on Microsoft’s usual patch release day — its so-called Patch Tuesday. And though there are no signs of an active attack yet, “this does not mean that we’re out of the woods,” the company said.

Microsoft said it’s “confident” that an exploit exists for the vulnerability, putting at risk close to Read the rest

May 28, 2019 Off

SoundCloud buys artist distribution platform Repost Network

By Jill T Frey

The past year has seen Spotify embark on a series of acquisitions to beef up its service, particularly on podcast content. Now it is the turn of SoundCloud, another European music startup — albeit one that had lost its way in recent years — to go deal-making: the Berlin-based company has picked up Repost Network, a service that helps artists get the most out of SoundCloud.

The deal is undisclosed and it actually was announced last week, although it was not widely reported — perhaps an anecdotal sign of SoundCloud’s position as a relative outsider in today’s streaming market.

Once a pioneer of online distribution for artists, it has watched Sweden-headquartered Spotify takes its service global with a total audience of over 200 million monthly listeners. The competition includes services from Apple and Google as well as the likes of Pandora, Deezer and Jay-Z-owned Tidal.

Soundcloud had its … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Amazon finally supports Traditional Chinese books on Kindle

By Jill T Frey

A long-awaited service for readers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and some other overseas Chinese communities have finally come true: Amazon has just started offering Traditional Chinese books for its Kindle e-reader.

The release filled an obvious gap for Kindle, which debuted back in 2007 and has been growing the number of languages it supports over the years. 2012 marked a major step in its Asia expansion as it began providing e-books in Simplified Chinese — the type of characters used in mainland China — under its China-specific site. That was a prelude to Kindle’s entry into China the next year. We will see if the same pattern of regional push will repeat for Taiwan and Hong Kong, where Kindle isn’t officially distributed at the moment.

Previously, people who read Traditional characters had to find roundabout ways to access the language on Kindle, such as buying Simplified content and … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Facebook releases community standards enforcement report

By Jill T Frey

Facebook has just released its latest community standards enforcement report and the verdict is in: people are awful, and happy to share how awful they are with the world.

The latest effort at transparency from Facebook on how it enforces its community standards contains several interesting nuggets. While the company’s algorithms and internal moderators have become exceedingly good at tracking myriad violations before they’re reported to the company, hate speech, online bullying, harassment and the nuances of interpersonal awfulness still have the company flummoxed.

In most instances, Facebook is able to enforce its own standards and catches between 90% and over 99% of community standards violations itself. But those numbers are far lower for bullying, where Facebook only caught 14% of the 2.6 million instances of harassment reported; and hate speech, where the company internally flagged 65.4% of the 4.0 million moments of hate speech users reported.

By far the … Read the rest

May 16, 2019 Off

OpenFin raises $17 million for its OS for finance

By Jill T Frey

OpenFin, the company looking to provide the operating system for the financial services industry, has raised $17 million in funding through a Series C round led by Wells Fargo, with participation from Barclays and existing investors including Bain Capital Ventures, J.P. Morgan and Pivot Investment Partners. Previous investors in OpenFin also include DRW Venture Capital, Euclid Opportunities and NYCA Partners.

Likening itself to “the OS of finance,” OpenFin seeks to be the operating layer on which applications used by financial services companies are built and launched, akin to iOS or Android for your smartphone.

OpenFin’s operating system provides three key solutions which, while present on your mobile phone, has previously been absent in the financial services industry: easier deployment of apps to end users, fast security assurances for applications and interoperability.

Traders, analysts and other financial service employees often find themselves using several separate … Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

After criticism over moderator treatment, Facebook raises wages and boosts support for contractors

By Jill T Frey

Facebook has been repeatedly (and rightly) hammered for its treatment of the content moderators who ensure the site doesn’t end up becoming a river of images, videos and articles embodying the worst of humanity.

Those workers, and the hundreds (if not thousands) of other contractors Facebook employs to cook food, provide security and provide transportation for the social media giant’s highly compensated staff, are getting a little salary boost and a commitment to better care for the toll these jobs can take on some workers.

“Today we’re committing to pay everyone who does contract work at Facebook in the US a wage that’s more reflective of local costs of living,” the company said in a statement. “And for those who review content on our site to make sure it follows our community standards, we’re going even further. We’re going to provide them a higher base wage, additional benefits, and … Read the rest