Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why your next startup should be all about email

In the late 00’s it was social media. More recently, we’ve seen the rise of subscription boxes, on-demand apps and the Internet of Things. These trends all have one thing in common though – they’re re-inventions of routines that have already existed in our day-to-day lives. These startups save us time so that we can do more faster without giving the tasks much thought. While not necessarily new, another area of tech that has made quite some buzz lately is the email-based startup. The entrepreneurs who have been plucky enough to get into the email game in recent years have…


Facebook expands search to all 2 trillion of its posts

Facebook announced on Thursday that it will expand its search function to include every publically-available post in its archive, not just those of your friends and liked Pages. But this won’t simply be a firehose of information, Facebook will reportedly segregate and stack results depending on the source.

So depending on your posts, if you published any public, you may want to change your privacy settings for those posts.


Facebook Implements Fix for iOS App Battery Draining Issues

Facebook’s newest iOS update, released yesterday, fixes a major battery draining bug that some Facebook users have been experiencing in recent weeks. Affected users were seeing large amounts of battery drain on their iPhones due to Facebook running in the background, something that happened even when background app refresh was toggled off in the Settings app.

While the latest Facebook app release notes don’t include a reference to the issue, Facebook engineering manager Ari Grant wrote a post explaining the issues behind the battery drain and what Facebook has done to fix it. According to Grant, there were several factors that contributed to the problem, including a “CPU spin” in the network code and silent background audio sessions that kept the app awake even when it wasn’t open.


The first issue we found was a “CPU spin” in our network code. A CPU spin is like a child in a car asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”with the question not resulting in any progress to reaching the destination. This repeated processing causes our app to use more battery than intended. The version released today has some improvements that should start making this better.

The second issue is with how we manage audio sessions. If you leave the Facebook app after watching a video, the audio session sometimes stays open as if the app was playing audio silently. This is similar to when you close a music app and want to keep listening to the music while you do other things, except in this case it was unintentional and nothing kept playing. The app isn’t actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake. Our fixes will solve this audio issue and remove background audio completely.


Find My Friends is now accessible on

Apple has finally made its Find My Friends app available on The app, which allows users to share their location with friends and family, has become a core app in iOS 9 and can no longer be deleted. (In previous versions of iOS, Find My Friends was an optional download.) Apple has also included Find My Friends in OS X El Capitan, as a Today view widget in the notification center.

Apple has quietly beefed up the slate of apps available on Last week, the company removed the beta tag from its iWorks suite of apps, bringing the total number of apps available through a desktop browser to 12.


Malicious adware’s latest trick is replacing your whole browser

Just recently, infosec celebrity Swift on Security pointed out a new piece of adware called the “eFast Browser.” It does the kind of malicious crap that we’ve all seen quite often over the years: throwing pop-up and pop-under ads on your screen, putting other ads into your web pages, pushing you towards other websites with more malware, and (of course) tracking your movements on the web so that nefarious marketers can send more crap your way.

But what’s nefariously intriguing about this software is that it isn’t trying to hijack your current browser, it’s straight-up replacing it. As reported by Malwarebytes, eFast tries to delete Chrome and take its place, hijacking as many link and file associations as it can. Its icon and window looks a lot like Chrome’s and it’s based on the open source Chromium project in the first place, so it acts a lot like Chrome too. The software comes from a company calling itself Clara Labs, which is actually behind a slew of similar browsers with names like BoBrowser, Tortuga, and Unico.

Chrome really lead the way to the new paradigm of how to do extensibility correctly. Firefox/Edge is almost literally working on copying it.

— SecuriTay (@SwiftOnSecurity) October 16, 2015

The weird thing about this software is that it’s actually kind of good news, security wise. As Swift on Security points out, it’s easier for malware to just try to replace your browser than it is to infect it. That’s because Chrome moved toward locking down extensions by requiring that they come through Google’s web store (and thereby Google’s code review and code signing). Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge browsers are moving in the same direction. So while replacing your whole browser isn’t totally new for malware, the fact that it’s the best vector for attack now might be.

According to PCrisk, eFast and its ilk try to get on your computer by burrowing themselves into the installers for free software from dubious sources on the web. It should be relatively easy to avoid installing it and, fortunately, should also be relatively easy to uninstall if you’ve found it on your computer.


12 hidden features in iOS 9

But some of iOS 9’s most useful features are a bit more difficult to find. From tools to help you keep your notifications organized to built-in flight tracking, some of the best features in Apple’s latest operating system could be easy to miss.

Here are my favorite hidden features in iOS 9.

1. Wi-Fi Assist

Automatically enabled by default, Wi-Fi Assist is a handy feature for situations when your data connection may be more reliable than Wi-Fi. When enabled, the feature will switch you to cellular data when the Wi-Fi connection gets spotty.


To check it out, head to Settings -> Cellular and scroll all the way to the bottom past your app list.

2. Smarter Calendar app

The Calendar app has gotten a lot more useful. The app is now able to detect things like event invites, flight information and restaurant reservations in your inbox (via the Mail app) and automatically pulls it into your calendar.


The app will also send proactive suggestions for events that have a location attached. If you have an upcoming flight, for instance, you’ll get a notification when it’s time to leave for the airport based on current traffic conditions.

3. Flight previews

Speaking of flight information, iOS will also show you a preview of flight information whenever it detects a flight number. Select the hyperlinked flight number from within Mail, Notes or Safari to access the preview.


4. Select multiple photos at once (finally)

Believe it or not, iOS 9 marks the first time you’re able to easily select multiple photos at once from within the main Photos app. Now, after you tap “Select,” you can hold and drag to choose multiple images.


5. Organize your notifications

You now have a lot more control over how your notifications menu is organized. You can opt to have notifications appear chronologically, grouped by app or manually sort the order you in which you want alerts to appear. For instance, you can choose to always have your most recent Facebook and Mail notifications appear at the top of your notification queue, regardless of when they came in.


6. Organize your notes

The Notes app gets some much-needed attention in iOS 9, with embeddable photos and new drawing tools. But the new Notes app also makes it a lot easier to to keep your notes organized with support for folders and the ability to tie notes to your email account or store them locally to your device.


7. Teach Siri your voice

One of the cooler tricks Siri has learned in iOS 9 is the ability to recognize your voice. Once “Hey, Siri,” commands are enabled, you can set up Siri so the assistant will only respond to your voice saying, “Hey, Siri.”


8. Share and send voicemails

Finally, an easy way to get voicemails off your phone: iOS 9 allows you to share and send voicemails from the Phone app. You can share messages to iMessage, Mail, or to other apps using an iOS share sheet.


9. CarPlay

Apple’s in-car infotainment system, CarPlay, has also gotten some enhancements in iOS 9. Besides support for wireless connections, the platform now has a dedicated menu within the main Settings app for pairing your iPhone to your car.


Additionally, CarPlay now includes support for auto manufacturers’ CarPlay apps, support for in-car hardware controls and audio message playback so you can listen to voice messages sent to your device.

10. Audio app suggestions

Plug headphones into the headphone jack and the lock screen changes to a shortcut of the audio app it thinks you’re most likely to use. These suggestions aren’t just based on the app you use the most though, the feature also takes factors like your location into account in order to provide the most relevant recommendation.


11. “Leave a message” for missed FaceTime calls

Calling via FaceTime is now a little more like a regular phone call: If you aren’t able to connect with someone via FaceTime, the app now provides a “leave a message option.”


12. Navigating between apps

We’ve called it out before but definitely one of the more useful — and easily missed — features of iOS 9 is the ability to easily switch back to the last app you were using. When you switch to a new app from within one of iOS’ built in apps, like Safari or Mail or the App Store, iOS provides a quick shortcut in the top left corner of your display to easily go back to the last app you were using.