It is a sad fact of life that there are no standards for who is allowed to use an iPhone. If there were some kind of minimum, we probably wouldn’t have to deal with these kinds of problems.
Writing for Fast Company, Mark Sullivan tells us “How Apple could easily fix the iPhone’s “cyber flashing” problem.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @designheretic.)
This would be the problem that when people have AirDrop set to accept file transfer invitations from “Everyone”, they can receive invitations from — are you sitting down? — everyone. Having it set like this can be a problem because some people — it’s men — get a thrill from showing their gross bits to other people. Here the Macalope means their physical gross bits and not the gross bits of their souls, although they are also putting those on exhibition.
Forgive the Macalope for thinking, however, that this is mostly a solved problem since, you know, you can actually change your AirDrop setting to “Contacts Only” or “Receiving Off”. But there are instances where you might have left it on “Everyone” by accident so maybe Apple could tweak it a bit to make it less tantalizing for perverts and, possibly, those looking for a medical evaluation and who are hoping beyond hope that the person they’re AirDropping to is a licensed medical practitioner. There is no truth in the rumor that the development name for AirDrop was “Does this look infected to you?”
So, while users do have a way of preventing these unsolicited assaults on their eyes and minds already, Apple could make this feature better. Some of Sullivan’s suggestions, however, go off the rails like a Brio train with an Estes rocket strapped on top of it and don’t act like you wouldn’t have tried that if your parents had let you.
…it could just remove the “Everyone” setting completely. The setting seems wildly inconsistent with Apple’s almost-obsessive emphasis on privacy.
Sure, why not remove phone calling, email and texting, too, since those also imply that you might, in some instances, want to interact with people whose contact information you might not have stored. Sullivan is incredulous that anyone has ever deliberately used the “Everyone” setting and seems to think it’s there solely for the purpose of sending unsolicited junk shots.
I asked Apple why people switch their setting to “Everyone” but got no reply.
HEY, APPLE. WHY DO PEOPLE USE YOUR FEATURES?
Can’t believe they didn’t reply.
(For the record, the Macalope has used the setting licitly on multiple occasions. His most frequent use case is probably sharing photos of playdates or school activities with parents of his child’s friends who are not in his Contacts. It’s not as uncommon as Sullivan makes it out to be.)
At the very least, Apple could put a warning in front of the user who switches AirDrop into “Everyone” mode. Something like: “In this mode someone you don’t know in your general vicinity might send you pictures of their genitals.” (Well, Apple could work on the wording.)
The Macalope is not a fan of adding popup warnings to every setting as a solution. Another dialog box showing up when you’re trying to do something simply reinforces the reflex to keep tapping past them monkey-like without reading in order to get the dang phone to do the thing you wanted to do. But there are other ways Apple could alleviate this, like adding a duration to the “Everyone” setting.
Android also has an ad-hoc file-sharing feature, called Android Beam. But it contains a built-in security feature: In order for it to work, the two Android phones have to be placed back to back…
That sure is a great “feature”. The Macalope looks forward to the day that Android trumps iOS yet again by adding an even more secure feature that requires both phones be connected via a secure tether — a wire, if you will — before a transfer can take place. And, finally, it will secure its dominance by requiring the user to “imprint” the image on a piece of paper and hand it to yeah, you get it, why even finish this sentence?
As an aside, “Android Beam” is a great name for a feature the requires the phones physically touch each other. A+ branding on that one.
Ultimately, this is a completely fixable problem without having to remove the feature or hobble it or provide a litmus test for iPhone ownership. The Macalope hopes Apple does take measures to do so, because no one wants to see that.
In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.