Breaking Rules

Travis Kalanick, the chief executive of Uber, visited Apple’s headquarters in early 2015 to meet with Timothy D. Cook, who runs the iPhone maker. It was a session that Mr. Kalanick was dreading.

For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had secretly been tracking iPhones even after its app had been deleted from the devices, violating Apple’s privacy guidelines.

But Apple was on to the deception, and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. “So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,” Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store.

For Mr. Kalanick, the moment was fraught with tension. If Uber’s app was yanked from the App Store, it would lose access to millions of iPhone customers — essentially destroying the ride-hailing company’s business. So Mr. Kalanick acceded.

New York Times: Uber's C.E.O. Plays With Fire

I expect nothing less than sociopathy from Kalanick and Uber. This also confirms that there are different rules for different apps on Apple’s App Store. If you’re big enough, you can clearly violate the rules and get away with a reprimand from Tim Cook.

Life is a series of tradeoffs

I wouldn’t have given up unlimited data unless I could swap it for something I wanted even more than the ability to stream Netflix 24/7… something that hadn’t existed during my previous five years as an iPhone owner.

A great Android phone.

— Andy Ihnatko: Why I switched from iPhone to Android

Use whichever product’s tradeoffs are acceptable to you. Save the emotional investment for things that really matter.

Ransack Your Way to Success!

It all started innocently enough. I was thinking of implementing a Path Mac OS X app as part of our regularly scheduled hackathon. Using the awesome mitmproxy tool which was featured on the front page of Hacker News yesterday, I started to observe the various API calls made to Path’s servers from the iPhone app. It all seemed harmless enough until I observed a POST request to https://api.path.com/3/contacts/add.

Arun Thampi: Path uploads your entire iPhone address book to its servers

Like location, I assume iOS will eventually require user permission for apps to access contact info. That Path was approved with such unethical functionality (that also appears to be a flagrant violation of the review guidelines) should be a reminder that the scrutiny given to apps is inconsistent and you cannot assume that because the App Store℠®™© (or any app store) is a walled garden, apps within are respectful of you.

Our Cloudy Future

The PC is dead. Rising numbers of mobile, lightweight, cloud-centric devices don’t merely represent a change in form factor. Rather, we’re seeing an unprecedented shift of power from end users and software developers on the one hand, to operating system vendors on the other—and even those who keep their PCs are being swept along. This is a little for the better, and much for the worse.

Jonathan Zittrain: The personal computer is dead

How much computing freedom and personal privacy are we willing to give up for convenience? I’m less and less comfortable with the balance being struck.