April 2024

iOS & Apple news

Apple announced Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference returns June 10, 2024. Entire conference available online for all developers, with a special event at Apple Park on June 10

Apple VP Greg Joswiak announces and hints at WWDC content (hint: AI):

Macrumors does a roundup of what to expect and the near-term rumors now that WWDC is set.

Apple has launched a new Developer Youtube channel. It can be used to watch and share WWDC sessions and events for developers.

Vermont authorities Vermont authorities warn residents to check for hidden AirTags after road trips to Canada. Apparently, thieves in Montreal, Canada, have used AirTags to enable vehicle theft, reports 9to5Mac.

Apple researchers just published a paper: ReALM: Reference Resolution As Language Modeling, where they discuss AI language modeling system named ReALM. Apple researchers develop AI that can ‘see’ and understand screen context, reports Venturebeat. `Apple researchers have developed a new artificial intelligence system that can understand ambiguous references to on-screen entities as well as conversational and background context, enabling more natural interactions with voice assistants, according to a paper published on Friday'.

Jason Snell discusses his thoughts in U.S. versus Apple: A first reaction

John Gruber on Merrick Garland’s Remarks On The Lawsuit Against Apple’s Supposed Monopoly.

A reminder for those who want to try it: The Apple Store at La Encantada is taking reservations for demos. All Apple Stores offer a wide variety of eye glass Rx inserts to help you demo it.

iOS apps

Roger H. told us about Robokiller, and app and a service to help deal with spam calls and spam texts. It used to be a paid service via subscription. They have recently restructured their subscription options, now offering a free tier.

Bob told us that he's trying out ArcSearch. This is a web browser and combines search and AI together and acts as a web browser as well. Roger H. also mentioned he has been testing the app. It offers both the results & sources for further verification.

Jet Lag app is an app to help you manage your jet lag when you go on a trip. It's especially useful when you are several time zones away from your home base, and especially if you have a short trip. The app is based on the science of our circadian rhythm. You get to prepare before you leave (typically a few days before) and it helps you manage and adjust in an optimal way. Astronauts use it, airline employees use it, and many more.


Kara Swisher's podcast episode Why Reed Jobs is Betting on Cancer Innovations is her interview with Reed Jobs, son of Steve Jobs. `In high school, Reed Jobs was a summer intern in oncology labs while his dad, the late Apple co-founder and tech icon Steve Jobs, was battling pancreatic cancer. In his biography, Steve is quoted as calling his son’s interest in biotech the “silver lining” of his illness – and making cancer “non-lethal” has become Reed’s life mission. In 2023, he spun off the venture capital firm Yosemite from Emerson Collective (the philanthropy and family office founded by his mother, Laurene Powell Jobs) to focus on cancer research and biotech. Kara and Reed talk about the research-to-start up pipeline, how he’s been influenced by both of his parents, and whether AI, mRNA or CRISPR will be game changers for cancer patients.'

Lost Women of Science is a podcast that spotlights the many women of science whose names remain unknown to the public at large. The podcast spotlights a scientist and `also brings these stories to the present, painting a full picture of how her work endures.'

For example, a recent podcast episode:

The Universe in Radio Vision, spotlights `the start of radio astronomy', the Australian physicist Ruby Payne-Scott, who helped lay the groundwork for a whole new kind of astronomy: radio astronomy. `By scanning the skies for radio waves instead of the light waves we can see with our eyes, Ruby and her colleagues opened a window into the universe and transformed the way we explore it. But to keep her job as a woman working for the Australian government in the 1940s, Ruby had to keep a pretty big secret.'

tips & tricks

Apple has created a new webpage for Manuals, Specs, and Downloads. It's a good one to bookmark.

gadgets & accessories

Bernie recently got this Foldable Magnetic Wireless Foldable Charger that is super compact and charges your iPhone, Watch, and AirPods Pro all at once. It's great for traveling. Bernie reported being very happy with this.

Olga reported getting the 2nd generation of Paperlike screen protector for her iPad. Her goal was not so much to protect the screen, but primarily to try out the `paper-like' feeling that this offers. It is intended to add a very slight increase in pencil friction to mimic writing on paper, not on glass. It does not cut down on the screen's brightness or viewing pleasure when you are watching a movie, for example. It's intended to improve the writing and drawing experience. Olga reported liking this, she has been using it for a month. The careful application instructions are impressive too, helping you avoid dust particles when you apply the screen protector. Take a look:

Paperlike also comes with a planner, here is a demo of how to use it to plan your year:


Podcast host Preet Bharara has recently released a mini-series of 3 podcast episodes on AI and its implications for society, as seen from a legal angle. The goal is to describe to what degree our current laws are (and are not) ready to deal with the possible hypotheticals that can arise with AI used in a medical setting, in politics, . He is joined by Nita Farahany, professor of law and philosophy at Duke University, and author of the book `The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology.'

Al on Trial: Bot-Crossed Lovers is the first episode pf the AI miniseries. Preet and Nita discuss the hypothetical case of a nurse who is caught stealing medications and redistributing them to people living in poverty. As it turns out, an artificial intelligence chatbot, who the nurse is in love with, aided her crimes and coerced her into carrying them out. How might the AI’s assistance impact the nurse’s criminal liability and a potential prosecution? And how do we even begin to think about the idea of holding the AI itself accountable for the harm it causes?

Al on Trial: Deepfakes v. Democracy is the 2nd episode of the miniseries. Preet and Nita discuss the hypothetical case of a hotly-contested Senate race. The campaigns are derailed when the leading candidate is accused of using AI to create fake videos that burnish his performance and hurt his opponent. Do existing laws, policies, and government agencies sufficiently safeguard our political process, and if not, what needs to happen to protect democracy in time for the real presidential election in November?

Al on Trial: Bot Bharara Steals Stay Tuned is the 3rd and final episode of the miniseries. Preet and Nita discuss the hypothetical case of an artificial intelligence chatbot that impersonates Preet as the host of a copycat podcast, Stay Tuned with Bot Bharara. The unauthorized chatbot was trained on everything Preet has ever said or written online. Can Preet protect his intellectual property rights? Is the law on the real Preet’s side, or is it time to surrender to an AI-dominated world and collaborate with the bot?


Apple Watch Topographic Maps Could Expand to iPhone in iOS 18, speculates Macrumors, after reviewing code. `Apple appears to be gearing up to add topographic maps to the Apple Maps apps in iOS 18, macOS 15, and visionOS 2, according to code reviewed by MacRumors.'

privacy & security

ATT has acknowledged data leak that hit 73 million current and former users, reports ArsTechnica. AT&T is notifying customers resetting passcodes to prevent unauthorized account access.

Google to delete search data of millions who used 'incognito' mode, reports NPR. `Google will destroy the private browsing history of millions of people who used “incognito” mode in its Chrome browser as a part of a settlement filed to federal court on Monday in a case over the company’s secret tracking of web activity. For years, Google simply informed users of Chrome’s internet browser that “you’ve gone Incognito” and “now you can browse privately,” when the supposedly untraceable browsing option was turned on — without saying what bits of data the company has been harvesting. [ . . . ] Yet, according to a 2020 class-action lawsuit, the tech giant continued to scrape searches by hoovering up data about users who browsed the internet in incognito mode through advertising tools used by websites, grabbing “potentially embarrassing” searches of millions of people. Google then used this data to measure web traffic and sell ads.'

Meta ( Facebook) snooped on users’ Snapchat traffic in secret project, documents reveal, reports Techcrunch. `“Whenever someone asks a question about Snapchat, the answer is usually that because their traffic is encrypted we have no analytics about them,” Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an email dated June 9, 2016, which was published as part of the lawsuit. “Given how quickly they’re growing, it seems important to figure out a new way to get reliable analytics about them. Perhaps we need to do panels or write custom software. You should figure out how to do this.” Facebook’s engineers solution was to use Onavo, a VPN-like service that Facebook acquired in 2013. In 2019, Facebook shut down Onavo after a TechCrunch investigation revealed that Facebook had been secretly paying teenagers to use Onavo so the company could access all of their web activity.'

next iPUG meeting

Our next iPUG meeting will be on Tuesday, May 7, at 7 pm AZ Time = PT.