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New Features You May Have Missed in the iOS 14.1, 14.2, and 14.3 Updates

New Features You May Have Missed in the iOS 14.1, 14.2, and 14.3 Updates

Apple keeps releasing updates with new features, and we wanted to take a moment to catch you up on what Apple has added in versions 14.1, 14.2, and 14.3. (If you’re running iOS 14 or iPadOS 14, you should update to the latest version, which is 14.3 as of this writing. There’s no benefit to staying at an interim version.)

Here’s what you may have missed.

Apple Fitness+

The highest-profile change in Apple’s recent updates is support for Apple Fitness+. It provides studio-style streamed video workouts that you can participate in using an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. The linchpin of the system is the Apple Watch, which tracks your fitness metrics and progress and stores them in the Fitness app (previously called Activity).

Apple Fitness+, which can be shared by up to six family members through Family Sharing, costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. All current owners of an Apple Watch Series 3 or later get a free month to try it out, and if you buy a new Apple Watch, Apple will give you 3 months for free.

If you have an Apple Watch and more exercise figured in your New Year’s resolutions, give Apple Fitness+ a try and see if you find it fun and worthwhile.Read More

5 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Improve Your Digital Security

5 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Improve Your Digital Security

Happy New Year! For many of us, the start of a new year is an opportunity to reflect on fresh habits we’d like to adopt. Although we certainly support any resolutions you may have made to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise, could we suggest a few more that will improve your digital security?

Keep Your Devices Updated

One of the most important things you can do to protect your security is to install new operating system updates and security updates soon after Apple releases them. Although the details seldom make the news because they’re both highly specific and highly technical, you can get a sense of how important security updates are by the fact that a typical update addresses 20–40 vulnerabilities that Apple or outside researchers have identified.

It’s usually a good idea to wait a week or so after an update appears before installing it, on the off chance that it has undesirable side effects. Although such problems are uncommon, when they do happen, Apple pulls the update quickly, fixes it, and releases it again, usually within a few days.Read More

Flash Is Dead—Uninstall Flash Player to Keep Your Mac Secure

Flash Is Dead—Uninstall Flash Player to Keep Your Mac Secure

In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would stop distributing and updating Flash Player on December 31st, 2020. Web standards like HTML5 provide a viable alternative to Flash content, and organizations that relied on Flash have had three years to replace it. Because Adobe will no longer be addressing security vulnerabilities in Flash with updates, Flash Player now prompts users to uninstall. We strongly recommend doing so—just click the Uninstall button if you get this alert. If you don’t, a Flash Player Install Manager app in your Utilities folder should be able to remove Flash Player as well. Adobe also provides instructions to uninstall manually.

(Featured image based on an original by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash)

Did You Know That Your iPhone Can “Name That Tune”?

Did You Know That Your iPhone Can “Name That Tune”?

Several years ago, Apple bought a company called Shazam, which made an app that identified songs by listening to the music playing nearby. Since then, Apple has built Shazam into Siri in iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. Most recently, Apple added it to Control Center in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 as well, so you can invoke it without speaking. To use Shazam, whenever you want to identify a song that’s playing nearby, just ask Siri, “What’s playing?” or tell it “Name that tune” or have some fun and say “Shazam!” To add Shazam to Control Center, navigate to Settings > Control Center, and tap the green + button next to Music Recognition. Then, from Control Center, tap the button to start it listening—you can return to whatever you were doing. When the song is identified, a notification appears with its name. Tap the notification to open the song in the Music app.

(Featured image by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

Take a Few Minutes to Lock Down Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Take a Few Minutes to Lock Down Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Even beyond its often controversial behavior in the 2020 US presidential election, Facebook continually makes news headlines for its numerous privacy and security problems. Most notable, of course, were the 50 million Facebook profiles gathered for Cambridge Analytica for the 2016 election. Closer to home, the company pushed a VPN service in the Facebook iOS app that collected all your mobile data traffic for Facebook. After pressure from Apple, Facebook pulled the VPN but reused it for the Facebook Research program, which paid users as young as 13 for their data. Apple caused that to be shut down too.

Facebook has also silently shared user data with other tech giants, received confidential health data from other apps without users’ informed consent, and stored hundreds of millions of Facebook and Instagram passwords in an unencrypted form, among much else. The criticisms of Facebook go on and on.

Because of this, many have encouraged Facebook users to delete their accounts. That even includes the billionaire co-founder of the WhatsApp messaging service, which Facebook bought in 2014. If you’re done with Facebook, you’re welcome to deactivate or even delete your account. Facebook provides instructions for both actions. Deactivating your account just makes you invisible on Facebook, whereas deleting your account may eventually (up to 3 months) result in most of the data being removed.

The problem is that Facebook can be useful. It may be the only connection you have with certain friends or family members, and many informal groups use Facebook for meetup logistics. For many, losing access to Facebook would hurt real-world relationships and activities. Plus, lots of companies have Facebook pages, and taking those down might result in a loss of business from customers who would find out about the firm only through Facebook. What to do?

If you’re a business, the most sensible approach is to keep your Facebook page but avoid relying on it. Remember, Facebook is not your friend. Back in 2018, Facebook said it would be prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content, which is a nice way of saying that Facebook is deprecating business-related posts. So make sure you have a Web site that you control, and make sure that customers can easily find it and contact you through it. It’s also a good idea to offer customers multiple ways to contact you, particularly via email.

On a personal level, there are two ways to think about privacy on Facebook: limiting the information you share with other people on Facebook and limiting the information that you’re willing to provide to Facebook. If Facebook doesn’t have data about you, it can’t sell it to the highest bidder, let it be harvested by hackers, or use it in ways you might find creepy.

Facebook’s Privacy Checkup walks you through many of Facebook’s privacy settings:

  • On the Mac, sign in to the Facebook website, click the down-pointing arrow button on the top-right corner of the page, click Settings & Privacy, and click Privacy Checkup.
  • In Facebook’s iOS app, tap the hamburger button in the bottom-right corner, scroll down to and expand Settings & Privacy, tap Privacy Shortcuts, and then tap “Review a few important privacy settings.”

For each of the five tiles in the Privacy Checkup, work through the steps to make sure you’re comfortable with the settings. Although all of them are important, pay special attention to “Your data settings on Facebook,” which lets you control what apps could leak data about you, whether Facebook can use facial recognition to identify you in photos and videos, and if Facebook can know your precise location.

If you don’t want to go through the entire Privacy Checkup just to check a single setting, look at Facebook’s Privacy Settings and Tools in the overall Settings collection (accessible from that dropdown menu on the Mac—choose Settings & Privacy > Settings > Privacy, or from the iOS app’s hamburger button—tap Settings & Privacy > Settings > Privacy Settings). This page also provides a link to help you review the posts you’re tagged in, removing those that you don’t want on your timeline.

Beware that you could also be sharing information about everyone you know—Facebook loves to know who you know, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts. You can prevent this, but doing so requires two steps, one on Facebook’s Manage Your Invites and Uploaded Contacts page and another on Messenger’s Manage Your Uploaded Contacts page. Just delete them all. Otherwise, you’re giving away your contacts’ personal information without their permission.

To ensure that contact uploading doesn’t happen again, in the Facebook iOS app, tap the hamburger button, scroll down, and then tap Settings & Privacy > Settings > Upload Contacts (at the bottom) and make sure the switch is off. In the Messenger app, tap your avatar in the upper-left corner, tap Phone Contacts > Upload Contacts, and make sure it’s off.

Also, in the iPhone Facebook app, tap the hamburger button again and then Settings & Privacy > Settings > Location, and turn off all the settings. Facebook doesn’t need to know everywhere you go.

If you’re perturbed by the way Facebook’s iOS app is trying to capture your contacts and locations, you could delete it from your devices and rely instead on the Facebook website, which can’t access as much information about you. To make it easier to open, in Safari, visit facebook.com, tap the Share button, and then tap Add to Home Screen in the share sheet.

Let us leave you with one thought. Always assume that anything you post to Facebook or allow Facebook to have access to could end up in the hands of companies who want to exploit you or on the front page of your local newspaper… or the New York Times. Nothing on Facebook is ever private—Facebook has shown that it isn’t trustworthy or reliable—and the best way to ensure confidential or embarrassing information doesn’t leak inadvertently is to avoid posting it to Facebook in the first place.

(Featured image based on an original by Michael Treu from Pixabay)


Social Media: Facebook has revised parts of its often confusing interface. We recommend you take this opportunity to review your privacy settings to make sure they’re keeping your data private, both from other users and from Facebook itself.

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