FT profiles Jony Ive: Transformational designer who understood the politics of Jobs

In a Financial Times story about Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive “emerging from [Steve] Jobs’ shadow,” we get a few interesting stories from ex-Apple employees regarding the design guru’s work ethic. While one anonymous ex-Apple employee told the publication Ive’s “main talent was his ability to manage his relationship with Jobs,” Path chief and former Apple employee Dave Morin remembers Ive as a perfectionist.

Morin described a story about Ive spending three months adjusting the MacBook design to ensure it could be easily operated with one finger:

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Apple’s court woes: AppleCare in Italy; Motorola, lawmakers grill iOS devs

As we reported earlier this month, Apple was set to appeal a $1.2 million fine imposed by Italian anti-trust authorities Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato. The authorities argued Apple is misleading consumers by selling its one-year AppleCare warranties without informing customers of a two-year warranty mandatory by European Union law. Apple officially lost the appeal in court this week, which forced the company to pay the €900,00 fine and alter its AppleCare policies to properly inform consumers going forward. Apple can still appeal the decision, but consumer groups from 10 other countries are also requesting Apple change its policies—indicating this could soon be EU-wide. (via Repubblica.it)

Following the Path incident, a letter sent from lawmakers to Apple in February requested information on how the company collects personal data. The two congressional representatives behind the letter, Henry A. Waxman and G. K. Butterfield, sent letters to 34 app developers requesting similar information. One of the letters was sent to Tim Cook and Apple about the “Find My Friends” app. The letters are requesting that developers answer questions about their privacy policies and how they handle user data. In response to Path, Apple already confirmed, “Any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

Earlier this month, we reported that U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner ruled in favor of Apple’s request to view documents related to the development of Android and the Google/Motorola acquisition. Apple claimed, “The Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple’s claims and defenses.” According to Bloomberg, Apple told the courts last week that Motorola has yet to fulfill the original request, but Judge Posner denied Apple’s request this week and said, “Motorola’s objections are persuasive.” Two patent infringement-related trials between Apple and Motorola are set for June, and Posner warns Apple will have to “narrow its request to a manageable and particularized set of documents” for any future production of data requests.
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FTC criticizes poor privacy disclosures in apps for kids, says industry must improve standards

Let’s take a quick break from the hordes of Mountain Lion OSX news to talk about privacy issues within apps…again. However, this time the spotlight is on children’s apps in both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Marketplace.

The Federal Trade Commission released a report today (PDF) based on a survey that found apps for children do not fully disclose the types of data collected nor do they adequately educate parents about data harvesting.

The consumer protection agency scrutinized privacy policies, recommended each developer give comprehensible disclosures on how data is accrued and shared, including whether children’s data is linked to social network apps, and it even mentioned conducting a six-month review on disclosures and using enforcement if needed. The report focused on the two main app stores themselves and requested more be done to tell children and their parents about privacy concerns…

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Study: Jailbreak apps upload less private data than Apple-approved apps

The app development world went into a frenzy when social network app Path was caught uploading users’ address book information without asking for permission last week. We already gave our view on the matter, but Forbes reported on a study by University of California at Santa Barbara yesterday that found Cydia apps leaked private data less than apps available on the iTunes App Store.

The group built a tool called PiOS that analyzes iOS apps for private data leaks. It looked at 1,407 free apps: 825 apps from the App Store; and, 526 apps from Cydia’s repository the BigBoss.

The findings indicated 21 percent of the App Store apps tested uploaded a users’ iOS device’s UDID, 4 percent uploaded location information, and .5-percent uploaded users’ address book—like Path did. When it came to the 526 apps tested on the BigBoss repo, only 4 percent leaked users’ UDID, and only one app leaked location and address book data.

Many people are under the impression that third-party apps do the majority of the uploading, but that might not be the case. Perhaps Apple’s new restriction on uploading address book information without permission will help remedy the situation.

You can view the study’s full graph after the break:

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Apple responds to iOS contact data sharing: ‘It’s a violation’

Apple officially responded to the mounting privacy concerns related to how third-party iOS apps access address book data on users’ devices. Tom Neumayr, a spokesperson for the Cupertino, Calif.-headquartered gadget giant told AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski:

Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines. We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.

So, there you have it. A forthcoming iOS software update will make sure no app can get access to iPhone contacts without your explicit approval. We are inclined to think Apple should not limit user approvals to just location data and contacts. While we are at it: Why not implement toggles for accessing the camera roll, photo library, and even your music library for that matter? This stuff is just waiting to be uploaded by rogue apps. By the time Apple discovers those violations and pulls misbehaving software from the App Store, it will already be too late and the damage will have been done. Any thoughts?

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Lawmakers grill Apple’s Cook on iOS developer data access following Path address book privacy debacle

The Path debacle just took another turn for the worse with House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman and Commerce Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee Chair G.K. Butterfield issuing a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook (via The Next Web). In it, the legislators seek to find out whether Apple is doing enough to protect personal data on users’ iPhones, including their contacts. Specifically, the letter asserts there have been claims that the practice of collecting address book data without users’ consent is “common and accepted among iOS app developers.”

As a consequence, the legislators argue, “This raises questions of whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices adequately protect consumer privacy.” They want Apple to respond to questions by Feb. 29. Apple is asked to detail its App Store review practices in respect to protecting users’ information. Whichever way you look at it, it is hard to escape the notion that everything on your iPhone is waiting to be uploaded.

As you know, with the exception of location services, iOS does not prompt users when apps tap APIs to access personal data stored in an iPhone’s address book, camera roll, music library and other places. This also includes little things such as geolocation information embedded in image files taken on the device. This is bothering the legislators and now they want to know why Apple has not implemented a simple toggle that lets users control access to their data other than location.

You have built into your devices the ability to turn off in one place the transmission of location information entirely or on an app-by-app basis. Please explain why you have not done the same for address book information.

We included the letter in its entirety below the fold.

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