Facebook expands Dark Mode testing on iOS and iPadOS apps

Facebook is accelerating its roll out of the social network app’s Dark Mode,” with more users able to turn the app dark to match the rest of their iPhone apps following an extended testing period.

The famous Dark Mode of iOS was introduced in iOS 13, and has been adopted by many different apps. The long-time holdout has been Facebook, but in a continuation of its efforts to change that, it’s now allowing more people to try out the feature in the iOS and iPadOS app.

In a post to Twitter, Jane Manchun Wong published a video made in collaboration with Facebook, showing off how the mode looked. The post from Friday advised that the mode was being publicly tested from that date, with more users starting to see the option in the app.

The larger-scale public testing follows an earlier test from June, where a “small percentage of users globally” had access to the feature. While there is no mention about how many people will be able to enjoy dark mode in the app as part of public testing, it is a good sign that suggests it may roll out to everyone fully in the near future.

The Facebook app is the last app in the company’s ecosystem to support dark mode, with Facebook Lite, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger apps all supporting it in iOS and iPadOS.

If available to use in the app by a user, an option will appear under the Settings & Privacy menu. Options will allow the app to be permanently light or dark, or to automatically change along with other apps as part of the main iOS feature.

WeWork employees used an alarmingly insecure printer password

A shared user account used by WeWork employees to access printer settings and print jobs had an incredibly simple password — so simple that a customer guessed it.

Jake Elsley, who works at a WeWork in London, said he found the user account after a WeWork employee at his location mistakenly left the account logged in.

WeWork customers like Elsley normally have an assigned seven-digit username and a four-digit passcode used for printing documents at WeWork locations. But the username for the account used by WeWork employees was just four-digits: “9999”. Elsley told TechCrunch that he guessed the password because it was the same as the username. (“9999” is ranked as one of the most common passwords in use today, making it highly insecure.)

Read more on Extra Crunch

The “9999” account is used by and shared among WeWork community managers, who oversee day-to-day operations at each location, to print documents for visitors who don’t have accounts to print on their own. The account cannot be used to access print jobs sent to other customer accounts.

Elsley said that the “9999” account could not see the contents of documents beyond file names, but that logging in to the WeWork printing web portal could allow him to release other people’s pending print jobs sent to the “9999” account to any other WeWork printer on the network.

The printing web portal can only be accessed on WeWork’s Wi-Fi networks, said Elsley, but that includes the free guest Wi-Fi network which doesn’t have a password, and WeWork’s main Wi-Fi network, which still uses a password that has been widely circulated on the internet.

Elsley reached out to TechCrunch to ask us to alert the company to the insecure password.

“WeWork is committed to protecting the privacy and security of our members and employees,” said WeWork spokesperson Colin Hart. “We immediately initiated an investigation into this potential issue and took steps to address any concerns. We are also nearing the end of a multi-month process of upgrading all of our printing capabilities to a best in class security and experience solution. We expect this process to be completed in the coming weeks.”

WeWork confirmed that it had since changed the password on the “9999” user account.

Some users affected by iCloud issues affecting Find My, iCloud Drive

Users of Apple’s online services are enduring a number of issues, with outages affecting a variety of iCloud features, including iCloud Drive, the iCloud Keychain, and the Find My app, among others.

Visible on Apple’s System Status dashboard, the current problems commenced at approximately 9:02am eastern time, across 14 different areas that include iCloud connectivity in some form. Across the collection of services, Apple advises “some users are affected,” with the main issue for each being an inability to access the service itself or aspects within each.

Apple isn’t listing any of the services as enduring an “Outage,” as it did in September, but describes each as having an “Issue” instead. It is unclear how many users are affected, but Apple’s description and avoidance of using the outage term suggests it is a small section of its total user base.

For example, iWork for iCloud’s issues relate to users being “unable to share new files or add people to shared files. Meanwhile the Find My app isn’t allowing some users to find the location of people or devices, to list registered devices, play sounds, remotely wipe devices, or place them into lost mode.

The appearance on the System Status page is a confirmation that Apple is aware there’s problems, and is working to rectify the issues. Typically such outages last a few hours, and are quickly fixed by Apple’s support teams.

The list of services affected are:

  • Find My
  • iCloud Account & Sign In
  • iCloud Backup
  • iCloud Bookmarks & Tabs
  • iCloud Calendar
  • iCloud Contacts
  • iCloud Drive
  • iCloud Keychain
  • iCloud Mail
  • iCloud Storage Upgrades
  • iWork for iCloud
  • Mail Drop
  • Photos
  • Screen Time

Is fintech’s Series A market hot, or just overhyped?

According to industry reports, venture capital deal-making has notably rebounded since dropping off briefly in March as shelter-in-place orders gripped much of the country.

As seed-stage fintech investors, this has certainly been our experience: “Hot” deals are getting funded faster than ever, and we increasingly see the large multistage global funds competing for the earliest access to companies. However, in our experience and anecdotal conversations with other early-stage investors, that excitement has not been translating to the Series A stage.

We’ve increasingly wondered if the Series A market in fintech is really as hot as it seems. As pre-seed and seed-stage investors, we know that the health of the Series A market is of critical importance.

In early October 2020, the Financial Venture Studio put together a brief survey of the Series A market in fintech and shared it with more than 100 investors with whom we work closely. Despite the high-level numbers indicating a healthy market, our research indicates a market that remains in flux, with significant ramifications for early-stage founders.

Why Series A is so interesting

Although the seed and pre-seed fintech market continues to attract substantial entrepreneurial and investor interest, it is also in some ways one of the easiest parts of the market to fund. The check size is smaller, the velocity of new deals is highest, and while the potential returns are also the highest, this is also the part of the market where information is most scarce. Perhaps counterintuitively, the fact that there is so little information on a business — aside from a plan, a team and maybe some early anecdotal evidence to support the vision — actually makes it easier to “pull the trigger” on deals where those data points align. There just often isn’t a lot more to dig into.

Similarly, by the time a company is raising Series B capital, they typically have some objective evidence that the idea is working. Companies are typically generating revenue, small teams have grown and become more sophisticated in how they operate, and importantly, the governance functions of a company have (hopefully) begun to take shape. The simple existence of a board member with invested capital at stake means that some of the more existential risks of the earliest stage have been mitigated.

In contrast, one of the big milestones for any startup has been to raise a Series A from an institutional investor. Besides an infusion of capital (which is often 2-3x the aggregate capital a company may have raised since its inception), this “stamp of approval” lends credibility to a small company that is trying to hire talent, sell to customers, and, in most cases, raise substantial subsequent capital.

Thus, it’s critical that Series A investors remain active; if not, many of these upstart companies may fail due to a lack of investment, even if they are able to demonstrate early market traction. The Series A funding market is one of — if not the most — critical funding stage in the innovation economy because it acts as a bridge between scrappy early innovation and commercialization at scale.

It stands to reason, then, that dollar amounts invested may not be the best barometer of the ecosystem’s health. What really matters is the volume of companies being funded and the variety of product approaches being pursued.

The post-COVID Series A

Once the initial shock of the pandemic wore off, the VC community had to get back to business, which admittedly is harder to do for funds that write $10 million+ checks and like getting to know founders in person. Still, Series A investors made it a point to let entrepreneurs know they were, and continue to be, “open for business.”

As investors have gotten more comfortable with the new normal, they have been more open to a virtual diligence process. Of the firms we surveyed, only 15% stated they have not completed a Series A investment during COVID-19 work restrictions. Of the firms who completed a Series A investment during COVID-19 (~85%), about half invested in a company whose founder(s) they had a limited or no relationship with prior to the onset of shelter-in-place orders.

The shift to a virtual environment means that process is more important than ever. Numerous investors have cited their renewed focus on following a structured approach to sourcing and diligence. The interpersonal aspect remains important to close a deal, but customer references, referrals from trusted seed-stage investors and a heightened scrutiny of metrics are all at the forefront of investors’ evaluations.

Original Content podcast: Bill Murray’s charm can’t hide the sadness of ‘On the Rocks’

“On the Rocks,” a new film on Apple TV+, focuses on a troubled marriage between Laura (a writer played by Rashida Jones) and Dean (a startup executive played by Marlon Wayans). When Laura begins to suspect Dean of cheating on her, she turns to her father Felix (Bill Murray) for help.

The film reunites Murray with his “Lost in Translation” director Sofia Coppola. It can feel feather-light at times, thanks to his seemingly effortless charm — it’s hard to resist Felix when he’s singing to a bar full of strangers or devouring caviar during an impromptu stakeout. But the script and performances also make it painfully clear that he’s let Laura down as a father, and that her disappointment hasn’t gone away.

As we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we loved watching beautifully shot footage of Murray and Jones in classic New York City bars and restaurants. We were, however, a bit less satisfied with the ending, which doesn’t really do justice to all the thorny emotional issues that the film raises.

In addition to reviewing “On the Rocks,” we also discuss Netflix’s imminent U.S. price increase and the new trailer for the pandemic thriller “Songbird”.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:35 “Emily in Paris” listener response
4:50 “Songbird” trailer discussion
9:14 Netflix price discussion
15:50 “On the Rocks” review
33:00 “On the Rocks” spoiler discussion

New iPhones, new HomePod mini, and record-breaking Mac sales — October 2020 in review

It was the month we’d been waiting for, as the new iPhone 12 range was finally announced, and then was eventually shipped. Or half of it, anyway.

Announced on October 13, Apple’s new iPhone launch had very much that was unlike any previous year. That started with how the launch was done with another supremely well made video — seriously, the Emmys should add a category for Best Performance by a Tech Executive in a Launch Promotional Series or Mini-Series.

Then this time Apple launched four new iPhones instead of three. And perhaps most significantly in these coronavirus times, it carefully altered the usual mix of features and price.

While the new iPhones, together with the iPhone SE and how Apple retains last year’s iPhone 11 Pro, the company has again got a phone for just about every price point. What’s different is that the whole iPhone 12 range offers features that might previously have been reserved for the higher-end Pro models.

They all have 5G, they now all lack a power adapter and earbuds, and all have the new Ceramic Shield on their front display glass. Speaking of which, there are tiny differences between those displays, but every model has an OLED Super Retina XDR display.

All four new iPhones have the same design, too, which brings the iPad Pro’s flat edges to the phones. This has been so popular that Apple’s got to be wondering what it can do with the iPhone 13 to keep up.

With choice comes complexity

In making the new iPhone 12 range affordable, at least with some models, yet keeping major features across every phone, Apple has made it both simple and hard to choose what to buy. If you were brand new to the iPhone at all, you could now just buy any of them and be sure of getting an extremely good phone.

That’s great, and it’s especially great for the entry-level iPhone 12 model, but it means a lot more head-scratching if you’re comparing the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 12 Pro.

Things are easier with the iPhone 12 mini, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, although neither was actually available in October. The iPhone 12 mini is smaller than this year’s iPhone SE, yet it contains a bigger screen.

It’s also the lowest-cost iPhone 12, even though many would’ve paid more to get the small form factor. So that could make it even more appealing than the iPhone 12 or the iPhone 12 Pro.

Similarly, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is going to have the best cameras, and significantly better than the rest.

That does make these two iPhone 12 models the right choice for many people, but during October 2020 when they weren’t available, they made that buying choice harder.

Or rather, it’s made the specifics of the buying choice harder, as it made the overall decision to buy a new iPhone more attractive. And in October 2020, we learned just exactly how appealing it is.

A billion pockets, y’all

The analyst firm with the odd name but the good track record, Above Avalon, announced in October that it appears over a billion people are now using an iPhone. And that’s now as in right now, today, this moment.

So it’s not that Apple has sold a billion of them — we know it long blew past that number — but rather that at this moment, there are a billion people with an iPhone in their hand.

You can say that Android is more successful, and many people do, including Apple in its many 2020 legal cases. But there are countless different Android phones coming from myriad companies.

There’s only one Apple, and a billion iPhones.

Steve Jobs with the first iPhone ever seen in public. There are rather more of them today.

Steve Jobs with the first iPhone ever seen in public. There are rather more of them today.

This year, that’s at least in part down to how we reportedly have a deeper emotional connection to our Apple devices than most people do to most other companies. Surveyed specifically to see how brands were faring during the COVID-19 pandemic, MBLM asked people about emotional fulfillment from firms.

Apple came first overall. Using only results from men, Apple came second to Amazon, however as well as the top spot in total, it was also top of women’s votes and those of millennials.

Separately, research firm Piper Sandler claimed this month that 86% of teenage respondents to its survey said that they have an iPhone. Then 89% said they intend to buy one.

Finally, the iPad Air 4 ships

There are also quite a few iPads out there, and it does rather look as if those numbers are going to swell because of the iPad Air 4. Apple announced it in September but, quite unusually, both kept us waiting and didn’t specify a release date beyond next month.

Despite countless rumors pegging its release to every day you can think of in the month, Apple practically slipped it out in the end. Pre-orders began on October 16, exactly 31 days after announcement, and alongside the rather more hyped iPhone 12.

Just as with the iPhone 12, though, the iPad Air 4 came with issues that affected buying decisions — although this time, all for the good. Over and over, reviewers, testers, and customers were coming to the conclusion that the iPad Air was the best iPad to buy.

It’s such a good combination of features, and price, that it has become hard to see why many people would buy the 11-inch iPad Pro. Bringing the same design, very similar features, and better performance meant Apple was again offering far more than usual in the lower-priced option.

Which is also a fair description of the one other hardware product Apple revealed this month. The HomePod mini had us all wanting one, and then when it was announced at $99, we all wanted more than one.

Before anyone has even got one to test, the HomePod mini has somehow become much more desirable than the original, full-size HomePod.

Not everyone loves Apple

October may have seen surveys saying we love Apple devices, and it may have seen Apple earning incredible amounts of our money even before we could buy the HomePod mini. Yet it was also a month where the company continued to be rather battered by criticism.

The now tedious Apple versus Epic Games dispute has continued with neither side offering much of a new level, and Facebook continued trying to make itself appear to be the poor underdog.

This time, “No Discovered Security Breaches in 0 Days” Facebook was arguing against the ad-tracking block that Apple keeps saying it’s going to add to iOS 14. Facebook wasn’t alone this month, as a coalition of publishers and advertisers in France lobbied their government to investigate Apple over unfair competition.

They maintain that every advertiser except Apple will require users to positively elect to allow ad tracking. Apple says yes, but no, because it doesn’t sell its ad-tracking data to anyone else, so you can’t really say it’s the same thing.

October also saw the House Judiciary decide that Apple has monopoly-like power with the App Store. Apple objected “vehemently,” saying that, “our company does not have a dominant market share in any category where we do business.”

Or rather, Apple and its current management team objected. Ex-App Store manager Philip Shoemaker said that Apple had always used the App Store as “a weapon against competitors.”

The House’s examination of Apple — along with big tech firms such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook — was this month just one of the worldwide pressures facing the company. The EU in particular has Apple on what’s being called a “hit list” of tech companies that it wants to apply stricter rules to.

That said, the EU’s chief antitrust executive, Margrethe Vestager, is one of the voices speaking out against breaking up large technology firms. She’s pursuing the plan to implement these more stringent trading and taxation rules, and thinks breaking firms up is a remedy with potentially unintended consequences.

One area we’re looking at for consequences is how Apple may be affected by the Department of Justice deciding to sue Google. The DOJ argues that Google paying Apple billions every year to keep being the default search engine on iOS is a problem.

When 5G isn’t 5G

Talking of worldwide consequences that, if not unintended, were at least not predicted, it was during this month that we really learned how not all 5G is created equal. If you’re in America, it’s likely that you’re still waiting for mmWave 5G, basically the version that has all the speed everyone promises in 5G.

If you’re outside the US, you might be waiting, you might not, but you may as well whistle for mmWave 5G — if you want an iPhone. While it’s hardly Apple’s fault that 5G availability isn’t better, it is entirely Apple’s fault that it has reserved mmWave for only US iPhones.

Then even in the US, there were reports that Dual SIM users wouldn’t get 5G on either of their lines. That may or may not be true, and it may be that Apple can fix it with an update.

None of this seemed to stop many of us from buying the new Apple devices. Around the world, customers lined up outside Apple Stores, and those of us waiting on deliveries soon found that demand was so high that we were going to be waiting a lot longer.

A look into the future

All of which accounts for Apple’s earnings call, where the company revealed that it had earned more than expected this quarter. At $64.7 billion, that’s more than analysts predicted — but repeatedly, Apple said that the figures were better than their own internal estimates.

That probably didn’t include sales in China, which the earnings call tried hard to skip over as quickly as it could. However, it did include what turned out to be a record for Mac sales.

During the last quarter, Apple sold $8 billion worth of Macs. “[This] was an all-time high for Mac in the history of the company. And not just by a little bit, by $1.6 billion, so it was a substantial difference.”

Tim Cook kept using the word “bullish” like he’d just learned it, and maybe that’s why he also took the unusual step of speaking more about the future — even if only ever so slightly.

“Without giving away too much, I can tell you that this year has a few more exciting things in store,” he said.

He didn’t sound as if he were talking of things we already know about, such as Apple Silicon — and certainly didn’t drop any hint about the now expected A14T processor from Apple.

Nor did he seem to mean the MagSafe duo charger that’s been announced but isn’t shipping yet. He didn’t sound as if he were talking about Apple Fitness+, which perhaps some of us are covering our ears over and don’t wish to discuss at this time.

Perhaps he did mean all of this, though. What he definitely did not mean was Apple One — because he had already specifically announced that the bundle would just squeak into the month on the very last day.

Cough analysis app could detect COVID-19 by sound alone

Researchers at MIT have used machine learning to create software capable of detecting whether a person has caught COVID-19 by analyzing their cough, a development that could eventually result in an iPhone app for daily checks.

So far, the iPhone has lent itself to helping users determine if they are at risk of the coronavirus by coming into close proximity to someone carrying the virus. If a new discovery by MIT researchers is developed further, the iPhone may end up being able to do more to dampen the spread of the virus further.

A paper from the team published in the IEEE Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology claims an AI model was created that could tell the difference between asymptomatic people and those who are healthy, via analysis of recordings of forced coughs. The model is claimed to be accurate 98.5% of the time when listening to recordings of people confirmed to have had COVID-19, as well as 100 percent of asymptomatic cough recordings.

The team collected more than 70,000 recordings via a website where the public could record a series of coughs via their smartphone or other devices, at the same time as filling out a survey about their symptoms, if they were confirmed to have the virus, and other details. The recordings resulted in around 200,000 forced-cough samples, including 2,500 of those confirmed to have COVID-19 or were asymptomatic.

Combining the 2,500 confirmed samples with another 2,500 randomly selected from the data set, the AI model was trained, then tested. The researchers claim the results revealed “a striking similarity between Alzheimer’s and COVID discrimination.”

The AI framework was based on one that existed for Alzheimer’s research, and determined it could pick up four biomarkers relating to vocal cord strength, sentiment, lung and respiratory response, and muscular degradation specific to COVID-19.

The team are now working to create a pre-screening app it intends to distribute for free, based on the AI model, as well as working with a number of hospitals to enlarge the cough recording pool, for further training.

It is suggested by the team that such cough analysis could be implemented into smart speakers and digital assistants to perform daily assessments. This naturally would depend on the devices involved having sufficiently good quality microphones as well as handling the necessary privacy issues, not to mention the assistance of companies like Apple and Amazon to implement, making it unlikely albeit altruistic.

CVE-2020-5425

Single Sign-On for Vmware Tanzu all versions prior to 1.11.3 ,1.12.x versions prior to 1.12.4 and 1.13.x prior to 1.13.1 are vulnerable to user impersonation attack.If two users are logged in to the SSO operator dashboard at the same time, with the same username, from two different identity providers, one can acquire the token of the other and thus operate with their permissions.

Note: Foundation may be vulnerable only if:
1) The system zone is set up to use a SAML identity provider
2) There are internal users that have the same username as users in the external SAML provider
3) Those duplicate-named users have the scope to access the SSO operator dashboard
4) The vulnerability doesn’t appear with LDAP because of chained authentication.