Twitter starts tracking phone numbers to prevent its worst users from creating new accounts

Casey Newton Reporting for The Verge:

Weeks after The Verge published internal memos from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in which he said “we suck at dealing with abuse,” the company is rolling out new tools to reduce harassment on the service. Under the changes, users who receive temporary bans may have to verify an email address or a phone number to resume using Twitter. (Other users can be banned permanently.) Email addresses are relatively easy to obtain, but phone numbers are harder — and by checking phone numbers against a list of banned users, Twitter could be able to keep more abusers and harassers from creating accounts.

Costolo has pledged to further improve abuse reporting tools, and to make it easier for users to filter trolls out of their replies. In the meantime, Twitter says that it’s working harder to ban its worst users. “Overall, we now review five times as many user reports as we did previously, and we have tripled the size of the support team focused on handling abuse reports,” Tina Bhatnagar, vice president of user services, said in a blog post.

Update: After this post was published, we got some questions on how tracking phone numbers will reduce abuse. Twitter does not require new users to provide a phone number when they sign up — and so a user who was banned, and decided to create a new account, could do so even if they had harassed users previously. But if that user began to harass again — as many committed trolls on Twitter do — Twitter can then ask them to verify their email address and phone number, and if it’s on a list of banned accounts, that user could be suspended permanently.

This move doesn’t resolve Twitter’s whack-a-mole troll problem entirely. Among other loopholes, a user asked to provide a phone number the first time could simply abandon his account and start a new one. But the move does add a layer of friction to the lives of the most dedicated trolls, and in that sense it could at least begin to address the issue.

It’s a start and something to slowly build on.

Take Advantage of Apple’s Free Web-based Productivity Apps

Apple this week announced that they would be offering free web-only access to their productivity suite of apps which includes Numbers, Pages and Keynote. Although Google has their own versions of spreadsheet, word processor and presentation apps and Microsoft are still charging a fee for use of their Office suite, until this week if you did not have access to a Mac or and a iOS device you could not use their producivivity apps. 

This also means that new and existing iWork users now have full functionality to be able to view, edit and share their documents on their iPhone, iPad, Mac and now on the web via Apple are also offering 1GB of free iCloud storage to store these documents and you can share and collaborate with others in real time when working  on your documents.

To get started, simply go to and sign in with your Apple ID. If you’ve used the iTunes Store, iCloud, or any Apple service, you might already have an Apple ID. If you don’t remember it, you can find your Apple ID.

If you don’t have an Apple ID, you can create one:

  1. Go to
  2. Click Create Apple ID.
  3. Fill out the required account information including your email address, a strong password, and security questions.
  4. Verify your email address by entering the 6-digit code they send you.
  5. Accept the iCloud Terms of Service.

After you create your account, you’ll be signed in automatically. supports modern browsers including recent versions of Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer.

For more information, click here.

Apple announces media event for March 9

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Jim Dalrymple for The Loop:

Apple on Thursday sent out invites for a special event to be held on March 9, 2015. The event will be held in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a venue that Apple has used many times before for special events.
It is widely expected that Apple will use the event to give more details about the Apple Watch, which was introduced last September.

There are still many details about the Apple Watch that we don’t know, including pricing of the various configurations that we could find out in March.

‘Leaked’ Samsung Galaxy S6 looks just like the iPhone 6

Buster Hein Writing for Cult of Mac:

In defense of Samsung’s design team, I’m sure they would like us to point out that they’re totally different. You see, they innovated a second a speaker row and added four more holes than the six on the iPhone 6. The antenna joints were also moved to the middle, and the ambient mic sensor is thrown in between the speaker and mini-USB because it’d look uglier more Samsung-y than the iPhone.


Touch ID & Banking Apps



It was announced this week that two of the United Kingdom’s major banks – Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest, have announced an upgrade to their current iPhone banking applications that introduces Apple’s Touch ID feature as an optional way of gaining access to these applications on your iPhone.

For someone that uses banking apps on their iPhone and uses Touch ID to unlock their iPhone every day, I see the potential and usefulness in applying this kind of functionality to my apps. I have tested and used several of the major banking apps available including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander – all of them offer a layer of security which needs you to type in a variety of pin codes, passwords and/or memorable letters to gain access to the app. Whilst I obviously understand the necessity for this level of security, I can’t help but wish there was somehow a quicker way to gain access to the app and avoid the complexity that can arise to access or to authorise payments without the detriment to my security.

This is where Touch ID would seem like the perfect solution for banking app such as these and the user would at least be given the choice of they would like to manage their banking app. Using Touch ID to gain access to other 3rd party apps on iOS is already popular with a lot of developers already giving it’s users the optional functionality. Apps that are already enabled for Touch ID include Dropbox1PasswordSkyBetOneDriveDayOne etc.

Only yesterday after news of these app updates were announced, the scaremongering began;

The MailOnline reporting:

But experts claim these people may be putting their money at risk as Touch ID only examines the look of fingerprints. So criminals could easily break into someone’s bank account by using a high-quality photograph or clear image of the phone-owner’s fingerprint. Such an image could even be gleaned from the phone’s screen itself. More sophisticated fingerprint-recognition systems can detect the warmth and veins within fingers. Ben Schlabs of the German think tank SRLabs said: ‘Fingerprints are not fit for secure local-user authentication as long as “fake fingers” can be produced from these pervasive copies.

“easily break into”

Despite Apple’s competitors struggling with their own versions of fingerprint ID, Apple seems to be garnering more support for their Touch ID technology and the fact that more and more developers and major companies are putting their trust in Touch ID by supporting it in their apps, tells it’s own story.

It is a fantastically useful and fast way to manage apps that need a level of security to deny unwanted 3rd party access – but as the owner and user, speed up access to these apps. We introduce this level of security to these apps so that the one time we lose our iPhone or it gets stolen etc., we have some peace of mind that although not 100% secure – and nothing is – that our sensitive information is secure. Until that day happens (and lets hope it never does) I want to be able to access these kind of apps on my iPhone quickly without having to enter pin codes, passwords and remembering memorable letters etc.

You can’t please everyone and there will always be users who will prefer to keep the existing level of security or indeed request extra when accessing these kind of applications on their devices but I for one look forward to potentially receiving Touch ID updates to the other major banking apps now that RBS and Natwest have led the way in the U.K.

Modern Family will air episode shot entirely with iPhones and iPads


Modern Family will air episode shot entirely with iPhones and iPads | Cult of Mac

MacBooks and iPhones have been no strangers on Modern Family but in an upcoming episode, Apple’s mobile devices are also taking over filming duties.
Modern Family plans to be the first major TV show to air an episode shot almost entirely with the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and MacBook FaceTime cameras. The episode, titled “Connection Lost,” airs February 25 on ABC, but the sitcom’s creator, Steve Levitan, says filming a TV show with the iPhone was even more difficult than anticipated.

“Everything was shot on the iPhone 6 or new iPads,” Levitan told The New York Times. “With one or two small scenes shot using MacBook Pros.”

At first, actors filmed scenes themselves while also dishing out lines. The shots ended up being horrible, though, so the team solved it by using professional camera operators. The actors grabbed the operators’ arms so it looked like the character was in control of the iPhone.

Levitan says “Connection Lost” was inspired partly by the short film Noah, which is set entirely on a computer screen as the main character goes through a breakup on Facebook. Modern Family’s iPhone episode starts with Claire Dunphy sitting in an airport waiting for her flight when it becomes apparent she’s struggling to find Haley after a flight. In seconds, her screen fills up with texts, emails and FaceTime chats, making “Connection Lost” perhaps the most modern Modern Family episode ever.

I remember the episode from 2010 where the character Phil was on a quest to secure one of the first iPads – I look forward to seeing this new episode when it airs.

Macworld’s Chris Breen Joins Apple


Apple adds Macworld editor to growing stable of journalists | Cult of Mac

Apple’s is continuing to make big changes in the friendlier post-Kate Cotton PR era with the announcement today that Chris Breen, the long-time senior editor at Macworld, has been hired by the fruit-flavored tech company.
Breen has worked at both Macworld and MacUser, but is making the change to working at the mothership after decades of covering the company as an Apple journalist.

“Just a note to say that I’ve left Macworld to work for a Cupertino-based technology company you may be familiar with,” Chris Breen told readers in a blog post. “As part of this change I’ll be leaving the public stage as Chris Breen Technology Guy…until further notice, my technology writing/speaking/radio/video/podcasting days are at an end.

Congratulations to Chris – I’ve always liked his work at Macworld and Apple sure are recruiting the right talent recently.