Paying $20 for a genuine Apple charging cable for your iPhone might seem like overkill (that goes up to $30 if you want a 2-meter cable!), especially when a quick search of sites such as Amazon or eBay will uncover no end of cables – many claiming to be genuine (breaking news: they are not) – for only a couple of bucks. They are, after all, just charging cables, so what’s the worst that could happen?
Must read: Apple products you shouldn’t buy (February 2019 edition)
Now, I’m no fan of handing over big bucks for a charging cable. I mean, the fact a 2-meter USB-A-to Lightning cable from Apple is $29 is a big part of the reason why there’s such a vast, unstoppable industry in poor-quality cables.
So what’s wrong with cheap iPhone cables?
Over the last few months I’ve bought and tested a couple dozen USB-to-Lightning cables in the sub-$10 price bracket, and all in all, they’re pretty gnarly.
So what’s wrong with them?
Well, first off, every cable I bought that claimed to be a “genuine” Apple cable was a counterfeit. And poor quality counterfeits at that. Apple has a support page outlining how to spot the fakes. If you want a genuine Apple cable, I suggest buying direct from Apple or an authorised Apple reseller.
I’m also amazed how many just didn’t work. I’m assuming that the idea is that if you’re only paid a few bucks that you’ll be less motivated to claim your money back. Or maybe the seller is relying on the buyer thinking their charger or iPhone is broken. Out of my test pool, over 15 percent were dead on arrival.
Then there’s the issue of durability. Or lack thereof. These cables seemed very susceptible to damage from being bent and twisted, and the Lightning connectors also seems to fall off quite readily. If one of those break in the Lightning port of an iPhone or iPad, they can be difficult to remove.
And some were just shoddily made. Five had really poor quality USB connectors on them that didn’t fit well into a port (one was a little mangled and I had to operate on it before it would plug in properly), and several had really thin cables or poor insulation that easily broke and tore off.
The thinner cables also seem prone to overheating. While I couldn’t get any to do anything spectacular like melt or burn, I’d be worried about their long-term safety, especially as they get damaged in use.
I did end up with one cable that seemed half decent. It worked, even after bending it a few times, and the Lighting connector didn’t fall off.
But that was one. Out of 27.
Bottom line, if you don’t want to buy a Lightning cable for your iPhone or iPad, then buy one from a reputable third-party maker. They’ll cost you a few bucks more, but it’s worth it.
And there are plenty out there, from Amazon and Anker, to Monoprice and Nomad. There are also no end of high-quality specialty cables out there, such as the Nomad Ultra Rugged “multi-tip” cable which can charge iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and anything that uses a microUSB port, the ultra-long 10-foot Native Union Night Cable, and the steel-armored Fuse Chicken Titan Lightning cable.
The same isn’t as applicable for microUSB cables that are used for charging Android devices and, well, almost everything else. Yes, I’ve come across cheap ones where the ends fall off or the cable stops working after a bit of rough handling, but on the whole the quality of these cables at the low-price end of the spectrum is far higher, in part because there’s a massive industry in making cheap charging cables to ship with devices.
What’s your experience with cheap Lightning cables?
Snapchat launches a TikTok-like feed called Spotlight, kick-started by paying creators – TechCrunch
After taking on TikTok with music-powered features last month, Snapchat this morning is officially launching a dedicated place within its app where users can watch short, entertaining videos in a vertically scrollable, TikTok-like feed. This new feature, called Spotlight, will showcase the community’s creative efforts, including the videos now backed by music, as well as other Snaps users may find interesting.
Snapchat says its algorithms will work to surface the most engaging Snaps to display to each user on a personalized basis.
To do so, it will rank the Snaps in the new feed using a combination of factors, like how many other people found a particular Snap interesting, how long people spent watching it, if it was favorited or shared with friends, and more. The algorithms will also consider negative factors, like if a viewer skipped watching the Snap quickly, for example. Over time, the feed will become tailored to the individual user based on their own interactions, preferences, and favorites. This is a similar system to what TikTok uses for its “For You” feed.
However, on TikTok, only users with public profiles can have their videos hit the “For You” feed. Spotlight, meanwhile, can feature Snaps from users with both private or public accounts. These Snaps can be sent to Spotlight directly or posted to Our Story. The company says the Snaps from the private accounts will be featured in an unattributed fashion — that is, no name will be attached to the content. There will also be no way to comment on these Snaps or message the creator, Snapchat explains.
Users who are over 18 can opt in to public profiles in order to have their names displayed, which allows them to build a following. But while this allows users to private and directly reply to the creators, there are no public comment mechanisms on Spotlight.
That’s a different setup than on TikTok and gives Snapchat a way to avoid the much larger hassle of handling comment moderation.
The Spotlight feed itself, though, is moderated. The company says all Snaps that appear on the new feed will have to adhere to Snapchat’s Community Guidelines, which prohibit the spread of false information (including conspiracy theories), misleading content, hate speech, explicit or profane content, bullying, harassment, violence, and other toxic content. The Snaps must also adhere to Snapchat’s new Spotlight Guidelines, Terms of Service, and Spotlight Terms.
The Spotlight Guidelines specify what sort of content Snapchat wants, the format for the Snaps, and other rules. For example, they state the Snaps should be vertical videos with sound up to 60 seconds in length. They should also include a #topic hashtag and should make use of Snapchat’s Creative Tools like Captions, Sounds, Lenses or GIFs, if possible, The Snaps have to be appropriate for a 13+ audience, as well.
Captions are a new feature, designed for use in Spotlight. Also new is a continuous shooting mode for longer Snaps and the ability to trim singular Snaps.
The Snaps can also only use the licensed music from Snapchat’s own Sounds library and must feature original content, not content repurposed from somewhere else on the internet . That could limit accounts that repost internet memes, which tend draw large subscriber bases on rival platforms, like Instagram and TikTok.
In addition, Snaps in Spotlight won’t disappear from being surfaced in the feed unless the creator chooses to delete them.
Users will be alerted to the new Spotlight feature when they return to Snapchat following Monday’s launch. Afterward, they’ll be able to take Snaps as usual then choose whether they want to send them to their friends, to their Story, to Snap Map, or now to Spotlight.
The feed itself will be accessible through a prominent new fifth tab on the Snapchat home screen’s main navigation, and is designated with a Play icon.
To encourage users to publish to Spotlight, the company will distribute over $1 million USD every day to Snapchat users (16 and up) who create the top Snaps on Spotlight. This will continue through the end of 2020. The earnings will be determined by Snapchat’s proprietary algorithm that rewards users based on the total number of unique views a Snap gets per day (calculated using Pacific Time), as compared with others on the platform.
The company says it expects many users to earn money from this fund each day, but those with the most views will earn more than others. It will also monitor this feed for fraud, it warns.
With the music licensing aspects already ironed out, Snapchat is now looking to leverage the over 4 billion Snaps created by its users every day to power the new Spotlight feed. This move represents Snapchat’s biggest attempt at taking on TikTok to date — and one that it’s willing to kickstart with direct payments, too. That will likely encourage plenty of participation among Snapchat’s young user base, given they’re already using the app on a regular basis. And once posting to Spotlight becomes a habit, Snapchat could have a viable competitor on its hands, at least among the younger demographic that favors its app.
Its biggest disadvantage, of course, is that it has struggled to reach beyond its young user base. That’s something TikTok has done better with, by comparison. The Wall St. Journal last week noted that TikTok teens were often following accounts from senior citizens, for instance, and the AARP had earlier reported TikTok had attracted a middle-aged crowd, as well.
Snapchat says Spotlight is live today on both iOS and Android in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and France, with more countries to come soon.
Google, Facebook and Twitter threaten to leave Pakistan over censorship law – TechCrunch
Global internet companies Facebook, Google and Twitter and others have banded together and threatened to leave Pakistan after the South Asian nation granted blanket powers to local regulators to censor digital content.
Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan granted the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority the power to remove and block digital content that pose “harms, intimidates or excites disaffection” toward the government or in other ways hurt the “integrity, security, and defence of Pakistan.”
Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition Asia (AIC), the tech firms said that they were “alarmed” by the scope of Pakistan’s new law targeting internet firms.” In addition to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, AIC represents Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, SAP, Expedia Group, Yahoo, Airbnb, Grab, Rakuten, Booking.com, Line, and Cloudflare.
If the message sounds familiar, it’s because this is not the first time these tech giants have publicly expressed their concerns over the new law, which was proposed by Khan’s ministry in February this year.
After the Pakistani government made the proposal earlier this year, the group had threatened to leave, a move that made the nation retreat and promise an extensive and broad-based consultation process with civil society and tech companies.
That consultation never happened, AIC said in a statement on Thursday, reiterating that its members will be unable to operate in the country with this law in place.
“The draconian data localization requirements will damage the ability of people to access a free and open internet and shut Pakistan’s digital economy off from the rest of the world. It’s chilling to see the PTA’s powers expanded, allowing them to force social media companies to violate established human rights norms on privacy and freedom of expression,” the group said in a statement.
“The Rules would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses. If Pakistan wants to be an attractive destination for technology investment and realise its goal of digital transformation, we urge the Government to work with industry on practical, clear rules that protect the benefits of the internet and keep people safe from harm.”
Under the new law, tech companies that fail to remove or block the unlawful content from their platforms within 24 hours of notice from Pakistan authorities also face a fine of up to $3.14 million. And like its neighboring nation, India, — which has also proposed a similar regulation with little to no backlash — Pakistan now also requires these companies to have local offices in the country.
The new rules comes as Pakistan has cracked down on what it deems to be inappropriate content on the internet in recent months. Earlier this year, it banned popular mobile game PUBG Mobile and last month it temporarily blocked TikTok.
Countries like Pakistan and India contribute little to the bottomline for tech companies. But India, which has proposed several protectionist laws in recent years, has largely escaped any major protest from global tech companies because of its size. Pakistan has about 75 million internet users.
By contrast, India is the biggest market for Google and Facebook by users. “Silicon Valley companies love to come to India because it’s an MAU (monthly active users) farm,” Kunal Shah, a veteran entrepreneur, said in a conference in 2018.
Facebook sues operator of Instagram clone sites – TechCrunch
Facebook has today filed another lawsuit against a company acting in violations of its terms of service. In this case, the company has sued Ensar Sahinturk, a Turkish national who operated of a network of Instagram clone sites, according to court filings. Facebook says Sahinturk used automation software to scrape Instagram users’ public profiles, photos, and videos from over 100,000 accounts without permission, and this data was then published on his network of websites.
In the filing, Facebook says it became aware of the clone website network a year ago, in November 2019. It learned that the defendant had controlled a number of domains, many with names that were similar to Instagram, including jolygram.com, imggram.com, imggram.net, finalgram.com, pikdo.net, and ingram.ws. The first in that list, jolygram.com, had been in use since August 2017. The others were registered in later years as the network expanded. Finalgram.com was the latest that was put to use, and has been in operation since Oct. 2019.
Facebook doesn’t say how large these sites were, in terms of visitors, but described the clone network to TechCrunch as having “voluminous traffic.”
In addition to being what Facebook claims are trademark violations associated with these domains, the sites were populated with data that was pulled from Instagram’s website through automated scraping — that is, via specialized software that pretends to be a human instead of a bot to access data.
The defendant was able to evade Instagram’s security measures against automated tools of this nature by making it look like the requests to Facebook’s servers were coming from a person using the official Instagram app, the complaint states.
The defendant had programmed his scraping software by creating and using thousands of fake Instagram accounts that would mimic actions that real, legitimate users of the Instagram app could have taken. Facebook said the number of fake accounts used daily could be very high. On April 17, 2020, the defendant used over 7,700 accounts to make automated requests to Facebook servers, for example. On April 22, 2020, he used over 9,000.
On the clone websites created, users were able to enter in any Instagram username and then view their public profiles, photos, videos, Stories, hashtags, and location. The clone sites also allowed visitors to download the pictures and videos that had been posted on Instagram, a feature that Instagram doesn’t directly offer. (Its official website and app don’t offer a “save” button.)
Facebook attempted to protect against these various terms of service violations in 2019, when it disabled approximately 30,000 fake Instagram accounts operated by the defendant. It also sent a series of Cease and Desist letters and shut down further Instagram and Facebook accounts, including one Facebook Page belonging to the defendant. However, the defendant claimed he didn’t operate jolygram.com, it was just registered under his name. But he also said he had shut it down.
Facebook claims the resources it used to investigate and attempt to resolve the issues with the defendant’s operations have topped $25,000 and is asking for damages to be determined during the trial.
The lawsuit is now one of many Facebook has filed in the years that followed the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where millions of Facebook users’ data has harvested without their permission. Facebook has since sued analytics firms misusing its data, developers who violated its terms to sell fake “Likes,” and other marketing intelligence operations. However, the company tells TechCrunch this is the first Instagram lawsuit against clone websites.
FACEBOOK v ENSAR SAHINTURK by TechCrunch on Scribd
Google Assistant adds scheduling for a smarter smart home
Google has quietly added support for scheduling actions with the Google Assistant, with the new feature allowing for smart home...
Snapchat launches a TikTok-like feed called Spotlight, kick-started by paying creators – TechCrunch
After taking on TikTok with music-powered features last month, Snapchat this morning is officially launching a dedicated place within its...
2021 Range Rover Evoque gains new technology and refinement
Land Rover has announced the 2021 Range Rover Evoque. For 2021, the vehicle gets more refinement and enhance technology. It’s...
How a Thanksgiving Day gag ruffled feathers in Mission Control
Enlarge / Flight Director James M. (Milt) Heflin, in Mission Control during the flight of STS-26 in 1988. NASA The...
2021 Honda N-One minicar goes on sale in Japan
Honda’s second-gen N-One minicar (Kei car) is now on sale in Japan. According to the Japanese carmaker, the all-new N-One...
Social10 months ago
CrashPlan for Small Business Review
Gadgets2 years ago
A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg – TechCrunch
Mobile2 years ago
Memory raises $5M to bring AI to time tracking – TechCrunch
Social2 years ago
iPhone XS priciest yet in South Korea
Cars2 years ago
What’s the best cloud storage for you?
Security2 years ago
Google latest cloud to be Australian government certified
Cars2 years ago
Some internet outages predicted for the coming month as ‘768k Day’ approaches
Social2 years ago
Apple’s new iPad Pro aims to keep enterprise momentum