Why You Can’t Find Parental Control Apps in the iOS App Store

Illustration for article titled Why You Can't Find Parental Control Apps in the iOS App Store

iOS: If you’re having trouble finding a good parental control app in the iOS App Store, there’s a reason for that: MDM, or Mobile Device management. According to Apple, apps using MDM “incorrectly” pose serious security risk, and so the company is cracking down—but what does this actually mean?

What is Mobile Device Management?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a general term for any technology that allows one device to be controlled and/or monitored by another remotely. Parental control apps on iOS often rely on MDM as a means for controlling screen time, applying content filters, and collecting usage reports, because it’s the only way to obtain device permissions for these kinds of activities. Otherwise, your everyday app on the App Store can’t control your device to this great a degree.

This isn’t some newly implemented technology. MDM has been present on iPhone for years now, with Apple overseeing MDM certification for its devices and even controlling all MDM-based actions on iOS apps.

So why is Apple now so worried about apps using this feature in a way it wasn’t intended? The company now claims that apps with MDM can leave your personal data vulnerable and open to exploitation by hackers, hence the purging of parental control apps from the App Store.

On paper, the move makes sense. If an unwilling person is tricked into installing a certificate from a less-than-stellar app, they’ve just given over the keys to their digital kingdom—a privacy breach Apple would very much like to prevent.

“MDM does have legitimate uses. Businesses will sometimes install MDM on enterprise devices to keep better control over proprietary data and hardware. But it is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device. Beyond the control that the app itself can exert over the user’s device, research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes,” reads a statement Apple published last last month.

Developers (try to) fight back

Several developers with parental control apps now affected by the new MDM policy have responded to Apple’s claims, and their arguments highlight some inconsistencies with Apple’s reasoning.

One app, OurPact, uses MDM to allow parents to set screen time limits on their child’s devices. OurPact’s developers released a statement using Apple’s own MDM documentation to refute the alleged security risks. You can read the full statement here, but the gist of the argument is that since Apple controls the entire MDM review process for iOS apps, properly vetted apps should not pose any of the risks Apple is warning against. As well, OurPact has been open about what it does and how it does it:

“OurPact’s core functionality would not be possible without the use of MDM; it is the only API available for the Apple platform that enables the remote management of applications and functions on children’s devices. We have also been transparent about our use of this technology since the outset, and have documented its use in our submissions to the App Store,” the company’s statement reads.

Photo: OurPact

Some have suggested Apple’s actual reason for removing these MDM-enabled parental control apps is to curb potential competition with iOS 12’s screen time feature. However, other reports point out that many of the apps were purged for various other violations unrelated to MDM, like the prohibition on creating “an App that appears confusing similar to an existing Apple Product, interface, app, or advertising theme.”

If you ask us, the whole this is a net loss for Apple’s customers, even though it is the security-minded approach to take.

What Apple’s purge means for you

Policy disputes between Apple and app developers are one thing, but the biggest concern for iOS users—especially for parents—is that parental controls/screen time apps are being removed from App Store.

This would be less of an issue if Apple provided developers with its own API for controlling screen time, but it does not. More importantly, many of the removed apps like OurPact, Kidslox, and Qustodio included features that iOS parental controls do not—such as filtering web content on non-Safari browsers and cross-compatibility with Android. Their absence leaves parents with fewer options for monitoring their child’s screen time (though there’s debate over just how effective screen time limits can be).

Hopefully, the outcry from developers and the feedback from users will force Apple to at least open up a discussion about the future of parental control on the App Store. For now, however, you might as well settle for using the parental control features built into iOS 12. They’re not as robust when compared to the rival apps, but it’s probably your safest bet for locking down your kids’ activities right now. It might soon be your only one.

[“source=lifehacker”]

Facebook Lite makes its way to iOS

Facebook Lite has been available for Android since 2015, though for a long time it was only accessible from developing markets. This year it finally reached the US, the UK, and other developed markets, and now it’s ready to make the jump to iOS as well.

The app is currently only installable if you have an iOS device and are located in Turkey. So the slow rollout seems to be mirroring what happened on Android – developing markets first (and even those being added one by one), developed markets possibly at some later point.

Thus, if you are in the US and are tired of the big bloated mess that Facebook’s normal app for iOS has become, you’re out of luck for now. But perhaps in the future the Lite alternative will be readily available across the globe.

Facebook Lite is much smaller in size than its non-Lite counterpart (just 5MB on iOS), and it also uses less power and significantly less data. That last aspect is generally much more important in developing markets where unlimited (or even cheap) data plans aren’t as prevalent, hence the rollout starting in such countries does make a bit of sense.

[“source=gsmarena”]

WhatsApp Group Calling Now Rolling Out to Select Android Beta, iOS Users

WhatsApp Group Calling Now Rolling Out to Select Android Beta, iOS Users

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Few WhatsApp for iOS 2.18.52 users have received group video calling
  • Same goes for very few Android beta version 2.18.145 and above users
  • A new Add participant button shows up in WhatsApp video call

At the F8 keynote, it was announced that the Facebook-owned WhatsApp is getting the group calling feature soon. Now, a few users are reporting that they are seeing the feature in their Android and iOS app, and are able to use it. Mind you, very few users are reporting this update, and it doesn’t mean that the official roll out has begun. WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app in the world, with over a billion active users globally.

WABetaInfo reports that few users on WhatsApp iOS version 2.18.52 and Android beta version 2.18.145 and above can see group video calling activated. This feature is not officially rolled out yet, and it does not work on the invitation system either. Users just have to be very lucky to see this feature, and WhatsApp seems to have randomly picked a segment of users to test this feature with. In any case, this does mean that the group calling feature is coming to WhatsApp Android and iOS real soon.

For all those lucky users who have it, they now see an Add Participant icon on the top right window after making a video call to one person. Clicking on that icon allows you to add up to three more people to the video call. The screen then splits into four halves for a proper group video call.

WhatsApp has rolled out the new iOS version 2.18.52 to all users, and you can check for an update on the App Store. After updating the app, you can go ahead and see if you have the video calling feature activated or not by following the above mentioned method. If you do see it, then let us know your first impressions in the comment section below!

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Wacom Bamboo Tip Stylus Allows for Seamless Pairing on Android and iOS Devices

Wacom Bamboo Tip Stylus Allows for Seamless Pairing on Android and iOS Devices

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Bamboo Tip comes with an anodised aluminium casing
  • It is available for iOS devices and most Android devices
  • It has a claimed battery life of 20 hours on a single charge

Accessory maker Wacom on Tuesday announced the launch of the new Bamboo Tip fine-tip stylus for Android and iOS devices. The stylus has been designed for Android phones/ tablets, iPhone, and iPad. It enables switching between devices without pairing. The Bamboo Tip stylus comes with a claimed 20-hour battery life. It has been priced at $49.95 (roughly Rs. 3,200) in the US, EUR 59.90 (roughly Rs. 4,700) in European markets, and JPY 6,280 (roughly Rs. 3,600) in Japan.

The Bamboo Tip comes integrated with Wacom’s proprietary Inkspace, a cloud based service that offers access and synchronisation for notes and other sketches. The fine-tip stylus has an anodised aluminium casing in a Dark Blue colour variant. It conserves battery life by turning off within a few minutes of standby time; users can also switch it off by pressing the button provided.

Yet another switch on top of the Bamboo Tip allows users to fine tune performance by changing frequency based on custom preferences.

The highlight feature of the Wacom Bamboo Tip is the ability to switch between Android and iOS devices without the need of pairing and unpairing repeatedly.

The Wacom Bamboo Tip has a length of 142mm and minimum diameter of 10mm. Weight of the stylus is 16 grams. It comes with a Micro-USB charging port hidden behind the cover on the top. It also comes with Bluetooth connectivity. “Bamboo Tip works best on screens without one (screen protector),” according to the product page.

“In today’s connected world, we rely on a combination of smartphones, tablets and different operating systems to capture ideas, observations and next steps at work or at play. Bamboo Tip lets users move seamlessly between devices and operating systems to get things done. As OS providers roll out more seamless note taking and markup capabilities on their devices, Bamboo Tip will help users take full advantage to be more productive and turn ideas into reality,” said Mike Gay, Senior Vice President of the Wacom Consumer Business Unit.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]