August 13th, 2021


August 2021 cover art for Dithering, depicting Yankees legend Babe Ruth fishing.

Good episode of Dithering this morning, with Ben Thompson and yours truly arguing about the privacy of Apple’s upcoming CSAM detection for iCloud Photos and the new “Open App Markets Act” App Store legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Best $5/month you’ll ever spend, trust me.

Joanna Stern Interviews Craig Federighi Regarding Apple’s Controversial New Child Safety Features

Clarifying interview, with at least one bit of news: Federighi says the heretofore unspecified “threshold” for CSAM fingerprint matches that must be reached before an iCloud account is flagged (or even can be flagged, thanks to how the shared-key cryptography is implemented) is “on the order of 30 known child pornographic images”. Right around the 3:00 mark:

“And if, and only if you meet a threshold of something on the order of 30 known child pornographic images matching, only then does Apple know anything about your account and know anything about those images.”

There’s also a WSJ news story (News+ link), co-bylined by Stern and Tim Higgins, in which Federighi emphasizes that the database of CSAM fingerprints is auditable:

Beyond creating a system that isn’t scanning through all of a user’s photos in the cloud, Mr. Federighi pointed to another benefit of placing the matching process on the phone directly. “Because it’s on the [phone], security researchers are constantly able to introspect what’s happening in Apple’s [phone] software,” he said. “So if any changes were made that were to expand the scope of this in some way — in a way that we had committed to not doing — there’s verifiability, they can spot that that’s happening.”

Critics have said the database of images could be corrupted, such as political material being inserted. Apple has pushed back against that idea. During the interview, Mr. Federighi said the database of images is constructed through the intersection of images from multiple child-safety organizations — not just the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He added that at least two “are in distinct jurisdictions.” Such groups and an independent auditor will be able to verify that the database consists only of images provided by those entities, he said.


Glass is a new photo sharing app/community:

We want you to adore Glass, not become addicted to it. We’ve created a distraction-free app focused on one thing — your photos. […] All the social network features you’d expect with none of the dark patterns driving engagement. Build relationships with and learn from other photographers while enjoying a chronological feed and no public counts. […]

Glass is subscription-based, which means we won’t sell your data or pollute your feed with ads. We don’t answer to outside investors or advertisers, just members of our community.

$4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly $29.99 yearly (at launch) keeps Glass rolling.

Is it just like OG Instagram? No. Glass is doing its own thing in a bunch of subtle ways. But it’s certainly a lot more like Instagram circa 2010 than Instagram is today. In spirit, it feels a lot like the early days of Flickr. I’ve been beta testing Glass for a few months and it’s an absolutely lovely, exquisitely-designed app. It’s downright serene scrolling through my Glass timeline, something that I haven’t been able to say about Instagram in many years.

Currently iOS only — in fact, I believe the only way to sign in is through Sign In With Apple. There’s a wait list to get in now that they’re out of beta; if Glass intrigues you, I encourage you to sign up now.

Om Malik Interviews Glass Co-Founder Tom Watson

More on the thinking behind Glass:

Om: Tom, tell us a bit about yourself and what prompted you to start Glass.

Tom Watson: I’ve been designing digital products for over 20 years now. I was an early Product Designer at Facebook (2009-2013) and Pinterest (2013-2018). I saw the tradeoffs firsthand around having to design for engagement versus people using the product. That experience made me want to build something different. […]

We intentionally didn’t raise venture capital. We didn’t want to make the compromises that I saw earlier in my career. With no outside capital and subscriptions, we’re able to forgo advertising, engagement algorithms, pivots to video, and several other things we feel would compromise the product and community we’re trying to build.

Om: Who are you focused on as a primary customer — a professional photographer? A pro-am photographer? Or amateurs?

TW: It’s for photographers — amateur or professional. That can be anything from someone just starting with their iPhone or someone with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. We believe great photography can come from anywhere and anyone. We hope to build a community for all levels of photographers to learn, grow, and generally nerd out about photography.