Tech News

Apple Removes Ad-Blocking Apps, Netflix Hikes Prices… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 09-10-2015

Apple deletes hacker-friendly apps, Netflix ups its prices, Amazon battles Etsy, the Harry Potter series lands on iBooks, Sony announces PS4 price cut, and RoBoHoN is the weirdest smartphone you’ll ever see.


Apple Deletes Insecure Apps

Apple has deleted a handful of ad-blocking apps which enabled man-in-the-middle attacks. These are all ad-blocking apps (such as Been Choice) released after Apple enabled its Content Blocking system Apple Accepts Ad-Blockers, Google Fights Back... [Tech News Digest] Blocking ads is bad for business, Netflix rejects offline viewing options, watch Disney Movies Anywhere, Steve Jobs garners great reviews, and Star Wars vs. Star Trek… again! Read More . However, unlike most ad-blocking apps, these apps had the capacity to block ads on apps other than Safari.

These was made possible by the installation of root certificates and funneling users through a VPN or proxy. The problem being that this opens users up to man-in-the-middle attacks, even if their browsing is encrypted. For Apple, this is a complete no-no, and it has pulled the guilty apps. An Apple spokesperson told The Guardian:

“Apple is deeply committed to protecting customer privacy and security. We’ve removed a few apps from the App Store that install root certificates, which enable the monitoring of customer network data that can in turn be used to compromise SSL/TLS security solutions. We are working closely with these developers to quickly get their apps back on the App Store, while ensuring customer privacy and security is not at risk.”

While privacy and security are obviously the main reasons for Apple acting against these apps, there may just be another element involved. These apps were blocking ads from appearing on Facebook, Yahoo, Pinterest, and, wait for it… Apple News. Thereby killing an important revenue stream for Apple. Which is relevant, as while Apple is happy to stop websites such as MakeUseOf making money from ads It's About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die A simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq – and is ruining the Internet. Read More , it’s less happy when it’s the one being put at a disadvantage.

Netflix Raises Subscription Prices

Netflix is raising the price of its standard plan by $1-per-month, changing it from $8.99 to $9.99. The standard plan is by the most popular plan, and offers two HD streams playing concurrently.


The price hike will affect Netflix users in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. New customers will be have to pay the new price immediately, while existing subscribers have a 12-month grace period before it kicks in.

A Netflix spokesperson explained the price hike, succinctly stating, “To continue adding more TV shows and movies including many Netflix original titles, we are modestly raising the price for some new members in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.”

So, is Netflix still worth the money? Is Netflix Worth The Money? There are more people who don't subscribe to Netflix as those who do, and that swathe of the population wants to know if they're missing out on anything. Is Netflix worth the money? Read More

Amazon Launches Handmade Etsy Clone

Amazon has launched a new marketplace called Handmade at Amazon. As revealed back in May, when Amazon’s plans to enter the arts and crafts sector Android Factory Resets Fail, Amazon Handmade Attacks Etsy, & More... [Tech News Digest] Android resets don't delete data, Amazon Handmade targets Etsy, Instagram emails Highlights, Spaces expands Google Chrome, Pac-Man embraces his past, and Mario Kart: Fury Road makes Max mad. Read More were revealed, Handmade is direct competition to Etsy. And Handmade has started strongly, with 5,000 sellers offering 80,000 items.


Etsy is now big business, with $2 billion a year in sales, so it’s understandable why Amazon wants a piece of the action. And Handmade at Amazon is almost a carbon copy of Etsy, with artisans invited to sell their creations using the retail giant’s considerable resources.

For its part, Amazon will take 12 percent of sales with no listing fees. This compares favorably to Etsy, which charges a 20 percent listing fee and takes a 3.5 percent cut of all sales. As popular as Etsy is Etsy - An Alternative To eBay For Handmade Products Read More , Amazon’s move into arts and crafts could spell disaster for the company.

Harry Potter Lands on iBooks

The Harry Potter series has finally landed on Apple’s iBooks, and these may just be the definitive versions of the classic books for children (and immature adults). That’s because these new releases are “enhanced editions” of the Harry Potter novels, which come complete with beautiful animations and annotations from J.K. Rowling herself.

The English versions of these digitally enhanced versions of the books are available now in 32 countries, with pre-orders being taken for the French, German, and Spanish versions. These can be read on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and may be a good excuse to read the whole series again. Even though we all now know he dies at the end.


Sony Cuts Price of PlayStation 4

Sony has cut the price of the PlayStation 4 by $50, dropping it from $399 to $349 in the United States. In Canada the price drops from $449 to $429. The old prices have stuck since launch, which suggests a price cut was overdue.

The new price is valid from today (Oct. 9) and brings the price of the PlayStation 4 Sony PlayStation 4 Review And Giveaway Ladies and gentlemen, the next generation of video game consoles is here, with the Sony PlayStation 4! Read More in line with the Xbox One Microsoft Xbox One Review And Giveaway The console wars are officially raging, and we've had sufficient time with both of them. That begs the question: how does the Xbox One compare? Read More . So, unless Microsoft also has a price cut up its sleeve, both consoles will head into the holiday season on a level playing field.

Sharp Is Selling a Robot Phone

And finally, Sharp is launching the weirdest smartphone we have ever seen. RoBoHoN is a robot masquerading as a smartphone, or is it the other way around? Regardless, this little fella does everything a smartphone does, but with arms, legs, bulbous eyes, and a cute voice.

RoBoHoN will answer phone calls for you, read out text messages, take notes, and generally act as a compliant servant. It’s essentially Siri 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using... Read More and Cortana Cortana Talks Back: Laugh, Cry & Love With Windows Phone's Digital Assistant Bored with no one to talk to? Why not strike up a conversation with your Windows Phone? These cues will make Cortana talk. Read More given a body. Suffice to say RoBoHoN is only being released in Japan, where this kind of kookiness won’t be regarded as odd 10 Of The Weirdest Japanese Pop Videos That'll Make You Say WTF I know I explained last time that real life in Japan isn't all that mad, but music videos is one area that they really excel (?) at. If you've ever seen a really weird music... Read More . [H/T Engadget]


Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Had you installed any of the hacker-friendly apps Apple has now removed? How do you feel about the latest Netflix price rise? Will you be switching from Etsy to Handmade? Are you more likely to buy a PS4 at this price point? Is the RoBoHoN amazing or ridiculous?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Image Credits: Richie Girardin via Flickr

Related topics: Hacking, iBooks, Netflix, PlayStation 4, Robotics.

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