Apple ditched plans for secure iCloud backups after FBI concern

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Apple ditched plans for secure iCloud backups after FBI concern
Apple planned new feature two years ago.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple ditched plans to let users fully encrypt backups of their devices using iCloud, a new report by Reuters claims. Apple reportedly made the decision after the FBI complained that this would make it harder to carry out future investigations.

The report mentions no names. But the news outlet reportedly spoke with “six sources familiar with the matter.”

Apple denies AG Barr’s calls of no help to unlock Pensacola killer’s iPhones

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Tim Cook & Apple stand behind its stance that iPhone encryption is "vital to protecting our country and our users' data."

Apple denied late Monday that it has not cooperated with U.S. federal authorities to help unlock a pair of iPhone’s believed to have belonged to a Saudi aviation student that killed three people at a Florida Navy base in December, saying it always works with law enforcement in their investigations and directly contradicting claims by the U.S. Attorney General that it had not given “substantive assistance.”

US Attorney General demands Apple unlock Pensacola shooter’s iPhones

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slide to unlock lock screen
Apple is embroiled in another unlocking controversy.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple could be headed for another collision course with U.S. federal law enforcement, similar to the spat it had with the FBI over creating backdoors into iOS.

Attorney General William Barr has asked Apple to provide access to two phones used by the gunman at the Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting last month. Barr said this morning that Apple has provided no “substantive assistance” so far and indicated that he’s ready for a fight regarding the issue.

Apple scans photos uploaded to iCloud to check if they contain child abuse

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Apple ditched plans for secure iCloud backups after FBI concern
Apple's chief privacy officer discussed the tech in a CES panel.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

CES-2020-bug-2

Apple’s chief privacy officer says that Apple scans photos uploaded to iCloud to check whether they contain child abuse. Jane Horvath discussed the use of the technology during a Tuesday panel on user privacy at CES.

Horvath didn’t reveal exactly how Apple carries this out. Many companies — including Facebook, Twitter and Google — already use a Microsoft-developed tool called PhotoDNA. This checks images against a database of previously identified pictures.

Apple promises to fix big bug in iOS 13’s new parental controls feature

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iOS-13-Communication-Limits
Communication Limits doesn't work as intended.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

iOS 13.3 dropped this week, bringing a brand-new parental controls feature called Communication Limits. But it comes with a serious flaw that allows kids to bypass any rules set by adults.

Apple says a workaround is available, and it is working on a fix that will be included in a future software update.

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Appstore
You can request them manually if you need to.
Photo: Apple

US Senator proposes new law aimed at limiting Apple data flow to China

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China
Tim Cook meeting with China's vice premier.
Photo: Tim Cook

One of tech’s biggest opponents in Washington D.C. proposed a new bill this week that could have huge implications on Apple and TikTok’s business operations if put into law.

GOP senator Josh Hawley from Missouri introduced legislation today that would prevent the Chinese company that owns TikTok from collecting information on American users and sharing it with the Communist Party of China. The bill would also stop American companies like Apple from storing user data in China.

The best alternatives to Apple’s disastrous MacBooks

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Macbook alternatives: The Surface Book comes with a 100%-working keyboard.
Unlike MacBooks, the Surface Book comes with a 100%-working keyboard.
Photo: Clint Patterson/Unsplash

Apple’s current line of MacBooks is probably its worst laptop lineup in years. The keyboards are so broken that even the newest MacBook Air is covered under Apple’s keyboard repair program. There are too few ports, and too much heat. And if you want to upgrade any internal parts? You’ll have to buy a new MacBook. But what are the best MacBook alternatives?

If you want to ditch the MacBook, you will find plenty of options. However, none of them offer one essential element: macOS. Switching to another operating system is like moving house and having to leave everything but your clothes behind. But there are workarounds even for that. Let’s check out the best alternatives to the MacBook in 2019.

How to give away your old AirPods

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Unpair airpods
New AirPods? Why not give your old AirPods away?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You’ve got your amazing new AirPods Pro, and now you have a set of perfectly good (if a little waxy) AirPods Normal just taking up mental space.

Should you keep them as spares? I guess that’s the safe route (just in case you misplace the Pros). But how about giving them away to a friend or family member? Today we’ll see how to unpair AirPods from your iCloud account so you can do just that. (Plus how to clean them before you pass them along.)

With the holiday season approaching, maybe you could make someone very happy.