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Apple's Shortcuts could be a shortcut to a privacy nightmare

 

One advantage to Apple's walled garden approach is that it keeps everything tightly controlled. This means that they have greater control over apps and what kind of data these apps can access. This can cut down on potential abuse. But there is no such thing as a perfect system. According to a recent security report, Apple's Shortcuts feature has a privacy issue.

 

The folks over at Bitdefender have recently discovered a vulnerability in Apple's Shortcuts. Shortcuts is a feature that is bundled with iOS and macOS. It is a native Apple feature that allows users to create automated tasks, such as automatically setting your phone to low power mode when it hits a certain percentage.

 

From what they found, this vulnerability would allow Shortcuts to bypass Apple's TCC. This is a security framework in iOS and macOS that controls access to sensitive user data from apps. This vulnerability essentially allows a Shortcut to bypass that request and collect sensitive data from an iPhone or Mac computer, which is then exploited at a later date.

 

This is particularly problematic because of the fact that Shortcuts can be created by users and then shared with the public. This allows users who might not be as tech savvy to enjoy certain automated workflows that were created by others. But this also means that users might end up installing a Shortcuts with the vulnerability and expose their devices.

 

Thankfully, Bitdefender says that Apple has since patched the issue in iOS 17.3, iPadOS 17.3, and macOS Sonoma 14.3. If you haven't updated your software yet, you probably should, especially if you Apple's Shortcuts and want to avoid privacy issues.


Apple might shift the Vision Pro team to a foldable iPhone project for 2026 launch

 

Since the start of 2024, rumors about Apple developing a foldable smartphone have appeared quite often. The latest speculation, coming from South Korea, further supports this notion and provides additional details about the tech giant's plans.

 

According to Alpha Economy (via Android Authority), Apple has reportedly made the final decision to release its first foldable iPhone in September 2026, potentially coinciding with the launch of the iPhone 18 series. Additionally, the source suggests that Apple has redirected its Vision Pro team to focus on developing the foldable phone, and the company anticipates selling approximately 50 million units of foldable phones worldwide.

 

If this rumor proves accurate, a foldable iPhone will be released after the 8th generation of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip (expected to be its main rivals). The Galaxy Z series is typically launched towards the end of summer. For example, we anticipate the release of the Galaxy Z Fold 6 around August this year, likely at the next Samsung Unpacked event.

 

The outlet suggests that Apple anticipates selling 50 million units, which is a significant leap compared to the industry's recent trends. While the foldable smartphone market has been growing, the combined shipments of all foldables from various brands remain considerably lower. For instance, the market leader, Samsung, is reported to have shipped around 10 million units of its latest Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 combined.

 

Moreover, the foldable iPhone would reportedly be developed by the same team responsible for the Vision Pro. An insider familiar with Apple's internal operations stated to Alpha Economy (machine translated):

 

I understand that a significant number of Vision Pro's core personnel have been transferred to the foldable phone development team to develop the foldable phone. Unless the situation changes, Apple's foldable phone will be launched in September 2026.

 

After years of development, Apple recently launched its Vision Pro headset, suggesting that the company may now shift its focus to a foldable iPhone. Nevertheless, it is essential to approach this information with caution, as rumors of this nature often prove to be less than 100% accurate.


Apple won't have to make iMessage compatible with Android

 

Apple's iMessage platform works across its devices, giving iOS and macOS users a way to message each other. There is a lot of debate on the green versus blue bubble. This has led to some to come up with ways for Android users to be able to send and receive iMessages. Now thanks to an EU ruling, Apple won't have to worry about making iMessage compatible with Android or other messenger apps.

 

The EU recently conducted an investigation of Apple's iMessage under the Digital Markets Act. The goal is to see if iMessage is considered a "gatekeeper" service. If it is, the EU would have forced Apple to make sure iMessage is interoperable with other services. Based on their findings, it seems that the EU has ruled that iMessage is not a gatekeeper service.

 

This means that things will continue to stay the same. This is versus other services like Meta's WhatsApp. Since labeling WhatsApp as a gatekeeper service, there's a need for it to ensure interoperability with other messenger apps. WhatsApp appears prepared for this, as it recently outlined how the app will receive messages from other messenger apps.

 

Apple is expected to enable support for RCS later this year. While this isn't the same as iMessage being compatible with Android, it will allow a somewhat similar experience. While the EU has ruled seemingly in Apple's favor, they might not be as lucky in the US. The FCC Commission has recently called for an investigation over Apple's blocking of Beeper Mini, an app that would allow Android users to send and receive iMessages on non-iPhone devices.


There is potential

 

The concept of virtual and augmented reality technology has fascinated the public for years. We've all seen the TV shows and movies on the potential of the technology and how it will one day become mainstream. Despite the fact that AR and VR devices have been around for years, they have largely remained as niche devices. Apple launching the Vision Pro is an attempt to break into the mainstream, but I think that's going to be a tall order.

 

A hard sell

The Apple Vision Pro doesn't usher in the AR future we were promised

 

Despite it's unique design and unique feature set, it's hard to ignore the price of the Vision Pro. Priced at over $3,000, it is going to be a hard sell for the average consumer. Competing devices or devices in a similar category are going for way less.

 

Secondly, battery life on the Vision Pro isn't that great. For a device that's supposed to be portable, a battery life of about 2.5 hours is quite disappointing. It might be good for one movie but that's about it. Lastly, it is too damn conspicuous. Remember when the less-conspicuous Google Glass first launched and the public's visceral reaction to it? Apple's Vision Pro doesn't even bother trying to disguise itself.

 

This brings us to our next point - the form factor. If Apple is hoping for the Vision Pro to become a daily part of our lives, it needs to be made into a form factor that is easily "forgettable". Think about products like smartwatches. They can be worn on the wrist and are easily forgotten except when you need it. They don't get in the way and we don't need to carve out a special time or place to use them.

 

Meta's Ray-Ban smart sunglasses are a great example. Even when their smart features aren't being used, they double up as a cool fashion accessory that you or I would easily wear on a daily basis.

 

There is potential

The Apple Vision Pro doesn't usher in the AR future we were promised

 

That being said, the Apple Vision Pro is far from a failure. Judging by the various reviews of the device, Apple has indeed created a device that works pretty much as marketed. It is quite an impressive engineering feat, especially with its gesture-based controls. The integration with Apple's ecosystem is another plus, making it a great extension for iPhone or Mac users.

 

To be fair, we think that Apple already expects that the first-gen Vision Pro won't be a smashing hit. The price alone is enough to put off the majority of customers. Like any new form of technology, there is room for improvement and refinement. At the end of the day, Apple needs to decide what they want from the Vision Pro and who exactly they are targeting.

 

If there is one good thing that the Vision Pro has accomplished is that due to Apple's marketing efforts and reputation, it can further propel the discussion and interest in AR and VR technology. It can also help serve as a catalyst for broader acceptance and integration of the technology into our daily lives.


Apple is starting to feel the effects of Samsung's AI adoption

 

Apple had a fantastic year in 2023. The company pretty much dominated the smartphone market. They also managed to steal the crown from Samsung who had been leading for the past decade or so. But it looks like it could be a short-lived victory as it appears that Apple could already be feeling the effects of Samsung's adoption of AI.

 

Notable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has published a post on Medium in which he has heard from his sources that Apple is lowering its 2024 iPhone shipments. The analyst claims that the iPhone 15 and upcoming iPhone 16 series will see a shipping decline of about 10-15% year-on-year respectively.

 

On the other hand, Samsung appears to be optimistic about its future and revised its Galaxy S24 shipments in 2024 by about 5-10%. We recently stated that Samsung's adoption of AI could prove to be a serious threat to Apple, and Kuo's report seems to suggest that the Cupertino company is already starting to see it.

 

Kuo also appears to be quite bearish about Apple's AI efforts. He opines that Apple might not launch an iPhone with significant design changes or more comprehensive AI systems until 2025 at the earliest. If that turns out to be true, it could spell bad news for Apple as they would essentially be ceding more market share to its competitors.

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