Apple Withdraws Some China Apps After Malware Found

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CMO Today: Publishers Yet to Feel Mobile Ad Blocking.

When Apple introduced its latest tablet computer earlier this month in San Francisco, CEO Tim Cook called the iPad Pro—a large-screen tablet with a detached keyboard—the “clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” The general reaction to this, once people stopped tweaking Apple for reinventing the Microsoft Surface, was applause. Like many others, I’m guilty of snoozing my alarm clock in the morning, at least once or twice, just to get one last relaxing moment with my bed before starting a long day of work. Major media companies, including CBS and Univision, say they haven’t felt any sort of impact yet, reports CMO Today, despite the early popularity of ad blockers in the app store. Apple’s strict nine-minute snooze policy is personally annoying: It gives me just enough time to fall asleep again for a few minutes, which doesn’t help me wake up.

It seemed clear that the company intended to move its personal computers “into a more iPad/iPhone-like ecosystem, where Apple gives you permission to use the computers you buy in only the ways Apple considers appropriate.” Is Apple planning to make all its personal computers iOS devices at some point? More than any other major computing platform, iOS limits customer choices to those Apple deems appropriate—in large part by forcing software developers to get permission before selling, or even giving away, the apps that run on the platform.

The report says that Apple’s decision to allow mobile ad blocking may be “overblown” and that most consumers–if they care about blocking ads at all–are more likely to do so on desktops. Software developers unwittingly downloaded and used development tools that had been modified, so when they uploaded their apps to Apple, the apps were infected.

Neither they nor Apple caught the hack until some number—it’s unclear how many—of users had installed the malware-laden apps, including versions of several hugely popular ones such as WeChat, on their devices. Apple has made itself into what security experts call a “single point of failure”—where whatever goes wrong can affect many other parts of the ecosystem that no one can avoid using. (Example: A massive outage on Amazon’s web-services platform this week created an “outage spiral” for some of its customers, and their customers.) Apple’s tight grip on iOS has another worrisome element: the app approval process that goes way, way beyond security and into the content of the app itself. Before any huge conclusions are drawn and the media and ad world brushes ad blocking aside, it’s worth noting that the survey was conducted among just 520 people. Apple is asserting that it has the right, and the duty, to prevent its customers from seeing things that Apple, in its sole judgment, considers offensive or fotherwise objectionable. While a bunch of big name publishers signed on, like the New York Times, it still seems rare for anybody to ever see these Instant Articles in their Facebook feeds.

In the most recent case, journalist Dan Archer found himself stymied by the Cupertino content cops when he tried to ship an app that combined virtual reality with politics. The Washington Post says it is all in on Facebook Instant Articles and plans to dump every single story it publishes onto the platform — about 1,200 stories a day, reports The Wall Street Journal. It wasn’t the first time Apple has done something like this, incidentally. “Either Apple and other platform developers need to be far more transparent in their adjudication process, or they need to give rejected apps more concrete feedback,” Archer wrote. If they think someone might be offended by something in their story, assuming it’s not illegal in the first place (and very, very little speech is illegal), they should set aside an area for people who want to check out material that others might find deeply offensive. Members of the WSJ Custom Studios group conducted video interviews with Drug Enforcement Agency officials, for example, as they looked to produce a content package that brings to life the era “Narcos” chronicles–the rise of the Colombia-to-U.S. drug trade of the 1980s.

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