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Netflix Wants Everyone to Just Relax [Undigital Weekly Edition]
There was a lot of tech news that happened this week, and I covered some of the biggest stories in The Morning Edition. Here are a few of the highlights from this week. As always, I'd love to hear what you think. You can reply to this email with your thoughts, or send me a tweet.
Netflix has always taken a relaxed position on people sharing passwords. It was sort of an unwritten rule that while the company didn't outright condone it, it was fine with the fact that kids went off to college and still used mom or dad's account. It was one of the things that made Netflix so well-liked and popular.
Then, in March, Netflix started testing a feature that would display a message if you tried using an account outside of the owner's home. As reported at the time by The Streamable, Netflix would tell users "If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching." Netflix will then prompt you to enter a code sent to the account owner via email or text, similar to two-factor authentication.
That, as you can imagine, didn't go over really well. It felt like Netflix was getting ready to crack down on something it had allowed for years. In fact, research from Magid shows that as many as a third of all Netflix users share their account passwords. That's a lot of password sharing considering the streaming service had just over 200 million subscribers at the start of the year.
Now, however, Netflix has clarified its position. More specifically, its top executives were asked during an analyst call on Tuesday whether this amounted to "turning the screws" on people who were freeloading on someone else's account.
"We will test many things, but we would never roll something out that feels like turning the screws," Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said during the conference call.
I suppose that's good news if you happen to be one of the people who still binge-watches Stranger Things on your old roommate's Netflix account. More importantly, however, Hastings's response is a great example of emotional intelligence for two reasons.
How the company engineered its way out of a major privacy issue.
On Tuesday, along with a handful of other updates, Apple finally introduced one of its most long-rumored products, AirTags. The idea is really quite simple--you attach an AirTag, which is a small round disc-shaped tracking device, to something you might lose. For example, a set of keys.
Then, in the event you can't remember where you left them, you can use the Find My app on your iPhone to tell the AirTag to chirp at you using the internal speaker. The app will also direct you to the AirTag using the iPhone's Ultra-Wideband chip, known as U1.
If, however, you left something further away, the beauty of AirTags is that they use the Find My network so you can still find them. If you accidentally drop your keys while you're in the grocery store, the AirTag will still send its location back to you by emitting Bluetooth Low-Energy that will ping nearby iPhones which then transmit the location to iCloud.
The whole thing is pretty incredible, but there is a potential problem. Two, actually. Both relate to the idea of creating a product designed entirely for the purpose of being tracked. That's something that has long gone against Apple's core value of privacy. In fact, the idea that you can have tracking in a way that protects privacy has been a complicated issue.
The first problem is figuring out how to use a network of iPhones to pass along the location of an AirTag while still protecting privacy. It turns out this was probably the easier of the two problems to solve.
Here's how Apple explains it:
Your AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network. These devices send the location of your AirTag to iCloud--then you can go to the Find My app and see it on a map. The whole process is anonymous and encrypted to protect your privacy. And its efficient, so theres no need to worry about battery life or data usage.
Considering there are 1 billion iPhones in active use, there's a pretty good chance that at least one will pass by your lost AirTag. That's a really brilliant solution.
But, what if someone decided to use an AirTag to track a person? That's an entirely different problem.
Don't miss the Morning Edition Newsletters from this week:
Why Is Everyone Mad at Apple? | Revue — newsletters.undigital.tech Undigital.tech Newsletter - There are two different versions of Apple. There's one version that is the most valuable company on earth and makes products loved by
Can We Agree the New iPad Pro Is Just Showing Off? | Revue — newsletters.undigital.tech Undigital.tech Newsletter - Apple's 'Spring Loaded' event yesterday was just that--loaded. The company managed to get through a lot of announcements in almost ex
Misguided Tech Regulation | Revue — newsletters.undigital.tech Undigital.tech Newsletter - Last Monday, Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri introduced a bill that would make substantial changes to antitrust law by banning all
Apple's new creator platform for podcasts shows it's taking Spotify more seriously as a competitor — www.businessinsider.com Apple saw a chance to slow the growth of its biggest competitor while also get paid for the work it's done to nurture a vibrant and growing industry.