The Impossible Dream of USB-C

Marco Arment:
I love the idea of USB-C: one port and one cable that can replace all other ports and cables. It sounds so simple, straightforward, and unified. In practice, it’s not even close. USB-C normally transfers data by the USB protocol, but it also supports Thunderbolt… sometimes. The 12-inch MacBook has a USB-C port, but it doesn’t support Thunderbolt at all. All other modern MacBook models support Thunderbolt over their USB-C ports… but if you have a 13-inch model, and it has a Touch Bar, then the right-side ports don’t have full Thunderbolt bandwidth. If you bought a USB-C cable, it might support Thunderbolt, or it might not. There’s no way to tell by looking at it. There’s usually no way to tell whether a given USB-C device requires Thunderbolt, either — you just need to plug it in and see if it works.
USB-C is a dual disaster. Continue reading "The Impossible Dream of USB-C"

Why Is Apple the Only Company Making Smartwatches for Women?

Serenity Caldwell, revisiting a topic she first wrote about two years ago:
When I first ran into this back in 2015, I figured the problem to be more of a marketing challenge than a technical one: Targeting the consumers most likely to buy early-adoption gadgets (men with larger-than-average-sized wrists) over the general consumer market. But as the years progressed, Apple found massive success attracting women to its watches, while other watchmakers… released similar sizes in rose gold. The 2017 LG Watch Style was arguably designed to appeal directly to women, but even then, LG couldn’t get the case smaller than 42mm-by-45.7mm — a massive difference from the Apple Watch’s 38mm-by-33.3mm. And it apparently didn’t work: The $250 smartwatch has seen massive discounts since its launch (including a crazy drop to $108 in August of 2017, just six months after its release).
I don’t think it’s that they don’t Continue reading "Why Is Apple the Only Company Making Smartwatches for Women?"


My thanks to Setapp for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Setapp is the first subscription service for Mac apps — it’s like Netflix for apps. A bunch of top-tier apps have joined since Setapp launched, and they just hit a major milestone: 100 apps. These are great apps, ranging from photo editing to web development to budget planning, and every Setapp subscriber gets all of them for the same monthly fee of $9.99. It’s that simple: you pay $9.99 per month and you get unlimited access to all of these apps, including all upgrades. Start your free trial today and see for yourself.

Drexel Caves to Anonymous Internet Trolls, Places Tenured Professor on Administrative Leave

George Ciccariello-Maher, tenured associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University (my alma mater), in an op-ed for The Washington Post headlined “Conservatives Are the Real Campus Thought Police Squashing Academic Freedom”:
Caught in this wave of right-wing threats and provocations, many universities are scrambling to keep up with the coordinated onslaught. In the best of cases, university administrations and departments have publicly condemned threats against faculty and made clear that they do not cave to intimidation campaigns. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has even responded to our cases with new guidelines urging universities to resist the targeted online harassment of their faculty. In response to such illegal threats of violence, Drexel has chosen to place me on administrative leave. Earlier in the week, I asked my students to explain the relation between white masculinity and mass killings, and they offered in a few short minutes Continue reading "Drexel Caves to Anonymous Internet Trolls, Places Tenured Professor on Administrative Leave"

iOS Is Ripe for Phishing Password Prompts

Felix Krause:
iOS asks the user for their iTunes password for many reasons, the most common ones are recently installed iOS operating system updates, or iOS apps that are stuck during installation. As a result, users are trained to just enter their Apple ID password whenever iOS prompts you to do so. However, those popups are not only shown on the lock screen, and the home screen, but also inside random apps, e.g. when they want to access iCloud, GameCenter or In-App-Purchases. This could easily be abused by any app, just by showing an UIAlertController, that looks exactly like the system dialog. Even users who know a lot about technology have a hard time detecting that those alerts are phishing attacks.
I’ve been thinking about this for years, and have been somewhat surprised this hasn’t become a problem. It’s a tricky problem to solve, though. How can the system Continue reading "iOS Is Ripe for Phishing Password Prompts"