Posts tagged Apple
Pornographic content is forbidden in the Apple App Store, but Apple seems to be OK with sending porn to developers who submit their apps for review, according to one who received an inappropriate pic.
“It turns out Apple thought the best way to tell us our app could be used to surf porn was to surf for porn using our app,” Carl Smith, a Florida developer for nGen Works, wrote in a blog post on Medium (NSFW link).
The email, which Smith shared with ReadWrite, appears to be from the Apple app review team and includes an attached photo of a man’s genitalia, but no warning of the enclosed content. This is the kind of thing that can create a hostile work environment for nGen employees whose jobs necessitate reading emails from Apple.
Smith suggested a number of alternatives he thought Apple could have used to indicate a concern about explicit content. The team could have sent nGen Works a search term to try, or even warn in advance what the emailed photo was of. Instead, Smith said the developers who opened the email had no warning that it would be graphic.
“What I want from Apple is for them to address the issue and put a policy in place that prevents an App store reviewer from sending pornographic images as an example of a issue,” he said. “They could have easily masked out the bad part of the photo or told us a phrase to search. At the very least warn someone before they open the attachments that they aren’t safe for work.”
“Specifically, we noticed your app contains objectionable content at time of review. Please see the attached screenshot/s for more information,” the Apple review team email reads, before offering a downloadable file that turned out to be the genitalia photo in question.
Smith said solution is hypocritical of the company. Of course nGen’s app, which allows users to enlarge, save, and search for Instagram photos, would be capable of browsing any photo that exists on Instagram already.
“This is a double standard,” Smith told ReadWrite. “If I type bad words into Safari I am going to see bad things. So I think Apple needs to address that.”
Smith said he doubted Apple’s “upper echelons” would approve of this action, and encouraged readers to spread the word.
We’ve contacted Apple for a comment on this allegation.
Photo via Shutterstock
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Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Yahoo Search Now Shows Your Flights, Events & Packages In The Search Results Yahoo announced that Yahoo Search, as well as Yahoo Mail‘s Today section…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
For Apple, China has been a great many things. Vendor. Partner. Customer. Competitor. Now perhaps one more thing can go on the list: Attacker.
Following Friday’s debut of the latest iPhone 6 in China, hackers spent the weekend targeting Apple’s iCloud data storage service. Apple acknowledged that it has suffered “intermittent organized network attacks” trying to glean user data when they sign in to iCloud.
As for who the perpetrator may be, security experts have one prime suspect in mind: the Chinese government.
China May Be “In The Middle”
The attacks appear to be of the “man in the middle” variety, a type that steps in between users and the sites they’re trying to access. Because these attacks relay data in both directions—to the users and to the legitimate site—people often don’t realize that a stranger is eavesdropping or pilfering their login information.
A representative for security monitoring website GreatFire told The New York Times claimed that the attack was either conducted by the Chinese authorities or parties sanctioned by them. The host servers for the attacks are only accessible by the Chinese government, the source said, or by state-run telecommunications providers.
“You think you are getting information directly from Apple, but in fact the authorities are passing information between you and Apple, and snooping on it the whole way,” said the GreatFire rep. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all suffered similar exploits for the same reason.
Michael Sutton, vice president for threat research at security firm Zscaler, seems convinced of the Chinese government’s involvement in the hack. “Evidence suggests this attack originated in the core backbone of the Chinese Internet,” Sutton told The NYT, “and [it] would be hard to pull off if it was not done by a central authority like the Chinese government.”
Previously, Apple’s cloud security hit the news when nude photos of celebrities Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and others were stolen and circulated on the Internet. Like that case, this security breach does not appear to come from a systemic vulnerability or specific security hole.
For now, Apple updated its site to disseminate information on how people can protect themselves. The company offers advice on what clues users should look for in Safari, Chrome, Firefox and other major web browsers, so make sure their connections are safe. The page was updated just today.
The iPhone 6’s debut in China had been reportedly held up for a month, due to regulatory issues stemming from security concerns.
Lead photo by Lewis Tse Pui Lung for Shutterstock
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This afternoon Apple notified us of a new self-service portal to add or edit local business listings: Apple Maps Connect. It’s intended for small business owners or their authorized representatives (though not agencies) to be able to quickly and easily add content directly into Apple Maps….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
The latest version of Apple’s operating software for its Mac computers, OS X Yosemite, turns out to be just a bit leaky where some of your personal information is concerned. Yosemite, it turns out, is configured by default to send local-search terms and your location information back to Apple and its third-party search partners.
Apple acknowledged that it does glean some information from Spotlight, the Mac’s built-in search tool for finding files in your computer or conducting online searches. But it denies that it uses any personally identifiable information itself and says it only passes along very general data to partners like Microsoft.
But maybe you don’t want to take any chances. So here’s how to shut down the tracking—a simple process, although one that’s not exactly obvious.
How To Turn Off Spotlight Snooping
To prevent your Mac from transmitting Spotlight search data, take these steps (courtesy of Fix-MacOSX.com, a site set up by security researcher Landon Fuller):
Disable “Spotlight Suggestions” and “Bing Web Searches” in System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results.
Safari also has a “Spotlight Suggestions” setting that is separate from Spotlight’s “Spotlight Suggestions.” This uses the same mechanism as Spotlight, and if left enabled, Safari will send a copy of all search queries to Apple.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d already disabled “Spotlight Suggestions,” but you’ll also need to uncheck “Include Spotlight Suggestions” in Safari > Preferences > Search.
What’s Caught In The Spotlight
It’s now common knowledge that companies like Google save your Internet searches for a variety of reasons, among them to tailor both services and advertising more closely to your interests. What’s interesting about this case is that it involves searches on your own computer, not the Internet at large.
That can lead to unexpected results, as former Washington Post national-security reporter Barton Gellman noted Monday on Twitter:
It’s not uncommon for companies to collect user data or track behavior for purposes of “improving the service” (whatever that means). But many make the activity obvious and offer clear opt-out instructions. Apple did neither.
True, Apple does inform users about its tracking behavior—by burying the disclosure in a terms of service statement most Mac users will likely bypass. Its “About Spotlight & Privacy” terms read: “When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple.”
The company also states that if location services is on when you use Spotlight, your whereabouts will be sent to Apple too.
In a statement, Apple further clarifies its actions:
For Spotlight Suggestions we minimize the amount of information sent to Apple. Apple doesn’t retain IP addresses from users’ devices. Spotlight blurs the location on the device so it never sends an exact location to Apple. Spotlight doesn’t use a persistent identifier, so a user’s search history can’t be created by Apple or anyone else. Apple devices only use a temporary anonymous session ID for a 15-minute period before the ID is discarded.
We also worked closely with Microsoft to protect our users’ privacy. Apple forwards only commonly searched terms and only city-level location information to Bing. Microsoft does not store search queries or receive users’ IP addresses.
Washington Post writer and independent security researcher Ashkan Soltani called the Spotlight leakage was “probably the worst example of ‘privacy by design’ I’ve seen yet.”
Lead photo by Sasha Kargaltsev
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I know, I know. We’re all supposed to be celebrating the miracle of Apple Pay right now. That’s too bad.
After conducting several transactions with Apple’s new payments service, my conclusion is that Apple Pay makes the same mistake that several past attempts at reinventing payments made: It doesn’t solve any real problems for consumers.
Problem No. 1: Getting Set Up
To use Apple Pay to pay in stores, you need an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus that’s been upgraded to iOS 8.1. There are many reasons you might not want to upgrade to 8.1—but you have no choice if you want to use Apple Pay.
The iPhone 6 line has an NFC radio chip inside, which is required for contactless payments. Older phones will be able to pair with an Apple Watch for payments when that device comes out next year. For now, it’s the 6 or nothing.
Once you do, the process of setting up Apple Pay and adding a card via the PassBook app is reasonably straightforward. One of my cards was already in iTunes; I added another using my iPhone’s camera. I was stymied, however, when I tried to add my business credit card—apparently some types of cards, even from banks that are loudly touting their Apple Pay support via email blasts and Twitter ads, don’t work with the service yet.
In both cases, Apple Pay displayed the wrong image for my card in PassBook—which seems especially absurd, since it scanned my card to add it in the first place. This is probably my bank’s fault. It’s still confusing, since the image is meant to signal at a glance which card I’m using.
Problem No. 2: Finding A Store
So, where do you go to use Apple Pay? Good question. Apple has said it has more than 200,000 locations, including some familiar names like McDonald’s and Walgreens. But beyond memorizing a list of Apple’s partners, how are you supposed to find a store that takes Apple Pay?
See also: Where You Can Check Out Apple Pay Today
Apple recommends looking for a contactless-payment logo or an Apple Pay logo. We did see the radio-wave logo in several stores, but at least in the San Francisco locations we checked, the Apple Pay logo doesn’t seem to have made it out into the wild yet. That will require a very slow process of retailers working with their payment processors to update their equipment and signage.
Until then, it’s more or less guesswork. Boy Genius Report has found a clever workaround: Use the MasterCard Nearby app’s directory of contactless-payments to look up stores. (These locations will generally take Visa and American Express, too.)
PayPal, by contrast, shows a directory of nearby locations that accept mobile payments. (Square used to, as well, in its now-abandoned Wallet app.)
It’s kind of silly that Apple doesn’t have an app for that. Why not make searching for Apple Pay locations an option within Apple Maps—or build it into Spotlight Search?
Problem No. 3: Dealing With The Cashier
In my experience, training varied wildly from store to store. Before the launch of Apple Pay, I asked a cashier at my local Walgreens if she’d heard about it. She hadn’t. On Monday, the day of launch, another cashier told me flatly “No” when I asked if that store was taking Apple Pay. A colleague corrected him.
At McDonald’s, a cashier was aware of Apple Pay but didn’t seem that excited about it.
At Panera Bread, my experience was different. The cashier knew about Apple Pay and talked about it effusively, pointing out the new payment terminals that he said had arrived just that morning. He guided me through the process, explaining that you had to keep your finger on the Touch ID button and tap the terminal at the same time.
At a nearby Starbucks, I quizzed a barista about Apple Pay. He hadn’t heard about it and was pretty sure Starbucks couldn’t take it. That was the right answer, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook flashing the Starbucks logo on a screen at an event last week. Starbucks isn’t using Apple Pay for in-store payments—only online transactions. And even those aren’t available yet.
Problem No. 4: It’s No Better Than Swiping
The reality of Apple Pay is this: Take your phone out. Hold your finger down. Tap. Wait for a notification on your phone. Get a paper receipt.
It turns out that that’s not much easier than the old way: Take your credit card out. Swipe. Get a paper receipt.
You’ll note that I didn’t mention signing anything. For most transactions under $50, Visa and MasterCard have programs that don’t require a signature. It speeds lines and the risk is low enough that banks and merchants aren’t worried about fraud. Most of the same big retailers who sign up for Apple Pay, particularly in food service, already use these programs.
I saw this reality reflected in the lines at Walgreens, McDonald’s, and Panera. I was the only one using Apple Pay. No one seemed particularly interested in what I was doing with my phone. I was just buying stuff, after all.
And that’s the main problem with Apple Pay: It’s not particularly faster than swiping a credit card. It doesn’t offer additional rewards or savings. I’m using the same credit card I was before.
Maddeningly, it doesn’t even do very obvious things that you’d expect it to. At Walgreens and Panera, I had to supply a phone number for those stores’ loyalty programs. I have a PassBook card for my Walgreens Balance Rewards program, but it’s not integrated into Apple Pay—and it turns out to be far faster to punch my phone number into the terminal than try to have the cashier scan my phone. (It seems like the scanners at Walgreens have trouble reading the barcode off a phone’s reflective screen.)
I did feel confident that my card was safe. With new credit-card breaches making headlines every month, I’d be inclined to use Apple Pay at vulnerable stores like Target and Home Depot for that reason alone. (Or Staples, for that matter.) But fear is a lousy motivator.
There will be a big reason to use Apple Pay a year from now. It’s called the liability shift. Starting October 2015, banks will require merchants to stop accepting swiped credit and debit cards, unless they want to assume the risk of fraudulent transactions. Instead, we’ll have to use newly issued cards with chips inside—or new systems like Apple Pay.
The problem with chip cards is that they’re slow—noticeably slower than swiping. But swiping won’t be an option at most retailers. There will be chaos at the cash registers as people get used to the new system. That makes next year a very good time to get people to try out Apple Pay.
Apple Pay has a separate service for making purchases within apps. That’s definitely interesting, though it requires developers to rewrite their apps—so that will take time to play out as well.
For the next 12 months, Apple has time to work out the kinks, advertise it more thoroughly, create tools for finding stores, get merchants to train their staff, and add coupons, discounts, and loyalty programs to the service.
But right here, right now, there’s not much about Apple Pay that makes it worth the bother.
Photod by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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To judge by its two most recent public events, Apple has three big priorities right now: Its supersized iPhones, the forthcoming Apple Watch and Apple Pay, its new mobile payments system that just launched. If nothing else, that became utterly clear last Thursday when CEO Tim Cook and other executives spent the first 30 minutes of its iPad presentation reiterating announcements they’d already made a month earlier.
Of course, Apple is a company in transition. After more than two years on what looked like autopilot following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple under Cook is branching out in a variety of new directions. It’s perfectly natural that it would focus on its most important efforts.
But that also leaves a lot of loose ends dangling around the periphery of Apple’s empire. Despite rumors and hopes that the company might announce a new Apple TV, MacBook Air with “retina” display, 12.9-inch iPad and sixth-generation iPod touch, all were conspicuously missing.
It’s easy to cast them as collateral damage in Apple’s campaign to reinvent itself from mere gadget maker to architect of connected life. But there’s plenty of reason to think the company has grander plans than that.
Well, for most of them, at least.
Patience, Apple TV
Two years ago, one of the first comments Tim Cook made as a newly minted Apple CEO was about how he loved his Apple TV and hoped to expand on it someday. Now the 7-year-old Apple TV has finally sloughed off its status as hobby and became a money maker, selling 20 million units and funneling more than a billion dollars into the company’s pockets.
That’s plenty of incentive for Apple to refresh its only TV gadget. And yet, no new product update came this year, which seems to defy logic. Streaming media has become so hot, channels like HBO and CBS are bypassing cable bundles by offering online-only services. Meanwhile, a new set-top box just hit the scene—from Google, Apple’s main competitor, no less.
But if Apple has been quiet about the set-top box, that doesn’t mean it has ignored it.
In 2012, Cook said, “[I] always thought there was something there, and that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling that string, we might find something larger.” That larger thing appears to be Apple’s new smart home system. Clues in the iOS 8 mobile software (Apple TV is technically an iOS device) point to the streaming box working with HomeKit as a remotely controllable hub.
Smart home features in the device would require some hardware changes, like antennae for Zigbee or Z-wave, short-range wireless signals often used in connected home products. Changes in the Apple TV’s remote control might also be in order, possibly delaying the device.
A bolstered Apple TV could thus serve as Apple’s Trojan Horse for smuggling smart-home features into people’s homes. If they already have a control console or hub, even skeptics might be inclined to try out a product or two that hooks into it.
The company could further boost appeal by giving the Apple TV access to an App Store. Currently, users get a few dozen pre-selected streaming channels. But they can’t download Spotify, Pandora or Rdio, much less game apps or alternate streaming services, the way they can on Google or Amazon TV streaming gadgets.
The thought of Apple opening that up would have been laughable a year ago. But now it has loosened developer restrictions for iPhone apps, making the prospect of it opening up Apple TV apps more credible. I’ve spoken with various developers who told me they couldn’t wait to make iOS apps for the big screen. So if the company is putting some finishing touches on a software developer kit alongside its work on HomeKit integration, plenty of services will be available to tempt customers.
In other words, this already decent set-top player could be on the verge of becoming awesome.
No “Retina” MacBook Air For You! (For Now)
After Apple released a marginally better MacBook Air earlier this year, anticipation was high that it was saving the best for last—namely, a new update with a high-resolution “retina” display. After all, the beefier MacBook Pro got one this summer.
Instead, the new, more powerful iMacs got Apple’s high-resolution IPS screen—and not just any old retina display, but its next-generation “5K” version, with 5120 x 2880 resolution. Apple also announced some much-needed upgrades for the Mac Mini, including a faster processor, faster Wi-Fi, speedy PCie-based flash storage and a price cut of $100.
What did the MacBook Air get last week? Bupkis.
But before hopefuls despair, they should know that Apple is probably holding things up for customers’ own good. These high-resolution retina displays draw a lot of power, so putting them on a laptop hyped for its battery life could potentially be a disaster.
So if you’re holding out for a MacBook Air with a retina display, take heart: Apple loves to tinker with energy optimization, so the extra time is likely going into slaying that battery dilemma.
The Monster iPad Cometh
The iPad’s market share has been plummeting recently, in part because people just don’t upgrade their tablets as often as they do phones. Case in point: The 3-year-old iPad 2 is still the most common Apple tablet in use today.
With consumer sales flattening out, the logical course of action is to go after business customers.
Indeed, the office may be the tablet’s greatest hope. Plenty of workers have already swapped their laptops for iPads, as tablets are more convenient on showroom floors, at construction sites and in other field or travel situations. For more incentive, Apple partnered with IBM a few months ago to offer business apps, cloud services, support and device management.
The 12.9-inch iPad was supposed to be another carrot to dangle in front of business users, completing a troika of tablet updates. Too bad it never made it to the stage.
Had it joined the updated iPad Air 2 and (very) slightly tweaked iPad mini 3, Apple would have had a three-part strategy locked in: One lightweight, world-mode tablet for globe-hopping executives (potentially as a laptop stand-in), another tiny version fit for the small carry-ons of frequent travelers, and the largest version for folks missing those larger laptop screens. And they will all transition easily between computers and phones, thanks to the newest software.
Ultimately production issues, not lack of faith, may have hampered the biggest iPad of them all. Apple reportedly focused its mighty supply chain on its new larger iPhones, relegating the tablet to a later launch date—probably in early 2015 with the Apple Watch.
Whither The iPod Touch?
Fall used to be iPod touch season. It was the perfect schedule, as it gave people plenty of time to add the product to their holiday wish lists.
But not this time around. Apple delivered a minor low-end summer update, but no 6th-generation model. Some think it may still come, only early next year, which makes sense if the iPod touch suffers from the same production issues plaguing the mongo iPad.
But releasing it after the holidays would set it on a strange timetable. To get back on track, Apple would have to skip a year, or launch two new versions in the same year.
The company may be in the midst of figuring out those complexities right now. Or, given its other ambitions, it might have other intentions. Here’s a somewhat depressing thought: The company retired the last of its 3.5-inch displays last month. It also killed its iPod Classic. For now, no one outside of Apple knows if it’s done pruning its product lineup yet.
Even if it’s not, that doesn’t mean death is imminent for the iPod touch. In fact, it could linger for a while. There’s even a chance that it may get the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, which would certainly simplify Apple’s manufacturing pipeline. Either way, it may point to the company’s lack of interest in advancing any more handhelds with 4-inch screens.
One More Thing: Apple Meets The SIMs
One of the most intriguing things to come out of Apple was something else it neglected to mention: The company built its own SIM, a tiny identification card inside phones and some tablets that allows them to work on cellular networks.
Apple’s SIM is its first, notes GigaOm, and it’s going into some of the LTE-equipped versions of its new iPad Air 2. The new tablet supports global LTE bands, plus older 3G, and it appears this card is how it will connect to those networks (starting with the U.S. and the U.K.).
iPad customers usually pick a cellular provider at the time of purchase (unless it’s a Wi-Fi only model), and there they remain. But the Apple SIM can be programmed (and then re-programmed) to work on different networks. This means that people could buy the tablet first, and then choose carriers later.
There’s speculation that the Apple SIM may be the company’s first step to becoming a cellular operator. That’s pretty far-fetched. Much more likely is that Apple saw adaptable SIM cards appealing to international users and business travelers, Apple’s new target audience for its iPads.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, with so few product announcements last Thursday, Apple’s presentation seemed a bit dull. But it wasn’t a sign of complacence. Far from it. It’s clear that the work is only just beginning. So far, Apple has had a tough time maintaining equilibrium as it figures out what to let go, what to keep and how to establish entirely new product categories—some of which it has never tried before.
It’s a balancing act, and the company has already been thrown off-kilter a bit. Over the next year, we’ll see how strong its footing in these areas really is.
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As promised, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8.1, is now available for download. Eager iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can grab the latest software on their devices by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update, or via iTunes on the desktop.
Whether they should, however, is another matter. Here are a few things to consider:
Reasons to upgrade to iOS 8.1:
- You want to try out Apple Pay
- You miss your Camera Roll
- You need iCloud photo library
- You need fixes for all the bugs iOS 8, 8.0.1 or 8.0.2 rained down on your device
- The download’s smaller than the super, mega-fat, “gigs” big iOS 8.0 upgrade. (On an iPhone 5S with iOS 8.0.2 installed, the iOS 8.1 update weighs in at 117MB.)
Reasons to wait:
- You’ll lose your jailbreak
- Your iPhone runs fine, and you don’t want to risk new bugs
- You have nearly maxed out the space on your iPhone. The iOS 8.1 download may be a smaller file than iOS 8.0, but it still needs extra room for installation. If you don’t have enough space and need to make way, you might have to make some tough choices about the apps, media or other files that are currently on your iPhone.
Given the numerous and critical bugs of previous iOS 8 releases, prudent iPhone users not desperately needing bug fixes may choose to wait. But if you’re brave and grab it anyway, let us know what you think is the best and worst of the new software in the comments below.
Images by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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Apple needs a serious update to its iPad line more than ever. True, it announced a perfunctory set of upgrades last week (although that included the utterly minimalist refresh of its iPad mini). But in the wake of miserable iPad sales for its July-September quarter, you have to be wondering if that’s anywhere near enough.
See also: Don’t Bother Buying The iPad Mini 3
Quarterly iPad sales clocked in at 12.3 million units, a 13% decline over the year-earlier quarter. Over the trailing twelve months—from October 2013 to September 2014, a period that includes Apple’s traditional holiday-quarter bump—sales declined 4.3% to almost 68 million iPads compared to the year-earlier period, when Apple sold 71 million iPads.
It’s hard to escape the impression that the iPad—sandwiched between iPhones with ever-larger screens and ever-lighter MacBook Air notebooks—is in free fall. Because iPad sales are falling in absolute terms while overall tablet sales continue to grow, even if that pace is slowing. Gartner, for instance, estimates that tablet sales will rise 11% in 2014.
Any way you cut it, falling sales in a growing market is an unhealthy sign.
Plenty Of Other Good News For Apple
Of course, Apple CEO Tim Cook would rather have everyone focus on its stellar Mac sales, which came in at 5.52 million units this quarter, not to mention its iPhone business, which continues to generate big sales and associated profits for the company.
In the same July-September quarter, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones, up 16% from 33.8 million a year earlier. Analysts had expected sales of 38 million units.
Apple’s quarterly results included 11 days of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales. Apple’s new iPads, however, won’t contribute sales until later in the current quarter.
Given the dismal and declining consumer sales of its iPads now, it’s clear that Apple needs a change in strategy, if it wants to save its tablet business. The company may already have a plan underway: It appears to be aiming the iPad more squarely toward business.
The company has already announced plans to offer more business-oriented tablet software. If its much-rumored 12.9-inch iPad sees the light of day, it would give business users a laptop-like proportion for the display.
See also: Apple’s Larger iPad May Be Delayed
Should Apple debut a snap-on keyboard for that monster iPad—which seems like a must for productivity’s sake—the iPad could become a bigger threat to PCs and low-end Macs alike.
Photo by Valery Marchive; product images courtesy of Apple
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Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year Google has confirmed to Search Engine Land that it updated its Penguin filter on Friday….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.