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An Apple e-mail security flaw, Google searches follow you and robots for grandma

One suspects retailers might someday have to pay for the privilege of Google stalking customers in this way.


Apple's built-in e-mail program encrypts your messages, but for months a code flaw meant it did not also encrypt the attachments (photos, video, other documents) you send along with them, this according to a little-known security researcher who apparently sounded the alarm weeks ago. Apple's own documentation claims it does encrypt attachments, but it since has acknowledged that is not true.

Apple news site iMore managed to collect the standard non-comment confirmation of the story: "We're aware of the issue, and are working on a fix which we will deliver in a future software update." The ability to exploit the flaw seems limited, it seems one would need physical access to your phone, but for corporate customers it's the kind of nightmare that keeps them hanging on to BlackBerry with its promise of end-to-end encryption.

Google alerts arrive in the real world

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Just when you thought Google couldn't get creepier, it's Google Now service just rolled out an update that uses geo-location tracking and search history to tell users when they are physically close to an object they were searching for online.

Available only for Android phone users, for now, Google hopes to help connect you with that perfect pair of boots you were searching for online: "if you're out and about and near a store that carries those boots, you might see a Google Now card showing you the product and price to remind you that you wanted them."

One-time social media darling Foursquare has been attempting to create services that will do versions of this, by having a sort of "auto-magic" element of the app that will alert you to tips whenever you enter a location logged by its users (previously you would see tips only if you purposefully checked in). Google's service sounds both much more powerful, much more invasive and potentially much more lucrative: one suspects advertisers might someday have to pay for the privilege of stalking customers in this way.

A robot for retirees

Vice reports on an EU pilot project that has introduced robots to help monitor six seniors who would like to stay at home and "remain independent past the point they'd usually be unable to live alone due to physical or cognitive difficulties." The program uses a telepresence robot called GiraffPlus to talk to the elderly patients, and a network of sensors to record such data points as time spent sitting or moving around, temperature and so forth. This is all designed to find a way for health care systems to respond to the strain the baby boom generation will put on the labour pool; home-care likely isn't possible for most people unless some of it can be automated.

You can watch the video of how it works starring a 94-year-old nonna in Rome (who, by the way, writes a daily blog). And do yourself a favour and watch the wonderful 2012 film Robot and Frank for an amusing dramatization of cybernetic home care's unintended effects.

Twitter breakup

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And this isn't a technology story, but it happened on social media so we'll shoehorn it in: If you haven't already you need to read the horrific/hilarious/can'tlookaway live tweeting of another couple's breakup by Toronto's Dave Bidini (thanks to Twitter Canada's @steveladurantaye for collecting the whole awful thing).


These are the three tech news stories we're most interested in today, if you want to know more about any one of them we're happy to dig further (just let us know in the comments or on Twitter @globetechnology). Help direct our coverage!

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About the Author
Technology reporter

Shane Dingman is The Globe and Mail's technology reporter. He covers BlackBerry, Shopify and rising Canadian tech companies in Waterloo, Ont., Toronto and beyond. More


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