Tales from the Orchard:Apple’s iOS 11.4 update with ‘USB Restricted Mode’ may defeat tools like GrayKey

The iOS 11.4 beta contains a new feature called USB Restricted Mode, designed to defeat physical data access by third parties — possibly with forensic firms like Grayshift and Cellebrite in mind.

 

“To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via Lightning connector to the device while unlocked — or enter your device passcode while connected — at least once a week,” reads Apple documentation highlighted by security firm ElcomSoft. The feature actually made an appearance in iOS 11.3 betas, but like AirPlay 2 was removed from the finished code.

The change blocks use of the Lightning port for anything but charging if a device is left untouched for seven days. An iPhone or iPad will even refuse to sync with computer running iTunes until iOS is unlocked with a passcode.

USB Restricted Mode may be intended to impose a seven-day window on when digital forensics specialists like Grayshift can break into a device, at least using any simple techniques. Those firms will often employ a “lockdown” record from a suspect’s computer to create a local backup of iPhone data, skipping passcode entry.

iOS 11 already has some restrictions on lockdown records, namely automatic expiration, and full-disk encryption that renders them useless if a device is rebooted. The 11.3 update shrank the life of iTunes pairing records to seven days.

ElcomSoft suggested that connecting a device to a paired accessory or computer could extend the Restricted Mode window, and centrally-managed hardware may already have that mode disabled.

“If the phone was seized while it was still powered on, and kept powered on in the meanwhile, than the chance of successfully connecting the phone to a computer for the purpose of making a local backup will depend on whether or not the expert has access to a non-expired lockdown file (pairing record),” ElcomSoft elaborated. “If, however, the phone is delivered in a powered-off state, and the passcode is not known, the chance of successful extraction is slim at best.”

The exact details of the hacking techniques used by Cellebrite and Grayshift’s GrayKey have been kept secret, so it’s possible they may still work after iOS 11.4 is released. The companies could however resort to more extreme methods to get at data, such as removing the flash memory from the devices, copying them, and using the copies to attack the password.

 

What do think of Apple’s move to thwart hackers and the FBI? Sound off in the comments below!

WIT: In quest for tech leadership positions, Chicago women band together to challenge ‘bro fest’

 

When Betsy Ziegler was named the first female CEO of technology and entrepreneurship center 1871 in February, it didn’t immediately sink in for her what that designation would mean.

The more she spoke with female entrepreneurs, however, the better she understood.

“All of them were like, ‘The fact that they chose you … as a female to lead this organization is a massive sign of … commitment,’ ” said Ziegler, who previously was chief innovation officer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “ ‘(1871 is) choosing the right person, regardless of what their gender is, to lead the organization forward.’ ”

Women such as Ziegler are moving into leadership roles in the tech industry, and the state’s largest public university is seeing more women majoring in computer science. But in Chicago and nationally, technology jobs overwhelmingly are dominated by men. Women in the industry say creating a path for more female leaders is an important step toward addressing many of the problems they face, from the lack of funding for companies they create to the lack of flexibility from employers when they pause their careers to start families.

There have been efforts to empower women in the tech world for years, and some expect the conversations about sexual harassment and gender discrimination sparked by the #MeToo movement to accelerate the cause. More companies have those issues on their radars. Networks of women in tech are growing, and they are working to reduce barriers for their peers.

In the Chicago office of Big Four auditor KPMG, Alex Bell, managing director in the insurance technology group, is working to find more female tech talent and propel the women already at the company into positions of power.

She launched a Women in Tech group at the firm 2½ years ago, and now it’s made up of more than 50 women in a range of positions, from partners to new associates. Men joined too.

“When we started this Women in Tech group, a lot of … male colleagues came to me and said, ‘What can I do?’ ” Bell said. “That, to me, says a lot.”

The group has had sessions with the recruiting team on how to find more women for tech roles. It has gone to a high school to talk to students about careers in technical fields and works with KPMG clients to launch similar initiatives in their own companies. Bell is creating a master list of group members’ areas of expertise so women can quickly find resources to help solve problems or build skills.

At Chicago-based Relativity, which makes software that analyzes data gathered during litigation, Jennifer Westropp, the company’s learning and development manager, started a leadership coaching program for female employees in November. The company hired a consultant to help them develop paths to executive roles.

The company was revamping its leadership development program, and women were asking for more resources on how to advance their careers, Westropp said. The pilot program includes eight women at the 829-person firm.

Software engineering manager Cindy Quendangen said it made her feel proud when she was approached about joining the program. But she hasn’t always felt comfortable being one of the few women in the room, a situation she’s faced ever since her college computer science classes.

“One of the big things that drives a lot of women out of tech is that they feel like they don’t belong,” Quendangen said.

In the past seven years, the share of technology-related jobs held by women across all industries in the Chicago area has barely budged, moving from 22 percent in 2010 to 22.4 percent last year, according to data from Downers Grove-based trade association CompTIA.

Nationally last year, women held 22 percent of tech jobs, including roles like systems analyst, software developer and web developer.
The percentage of all jobs in Illinois’ tech industry filled by women, including nontechnical roles, barely improved in recent years, rising to 34.1 percent last year from 33.8 percent in 2015, when CompTIA began tracking that data.

Many corporate boards and senior executive teams in the tech industry are mindful of diversity and have been for at least the past four or five years, said Sally Beatty, a partner in the Chicago office of recruiting and consulting firm Korn Ferry. In recent months, there has been more interest in reducing the gender gap in executive roles.

But it’s still a challenge to find women to fill those roles, said Beatty, who works with technology companies around the world on CEO and C-suite searches.

“There are more men in senior tech roles, which means there’s less of a pipeline of (women) to move up,” she said. “Change is really slow.”

Women in the industry see a variety of obstacles to achieving greater gender equality: Not enough funding goes to startups founded by women; too few girls are being encouraged to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math; and it’s hard for women to get back into technical occupations after taking time off to start a family.

For all the factors contributing to the problem, there are actions companies and leaders can take now to get more women involved in technology, said Julia Kanouse, CEO of the Chicago-based Illinois Technology Association. She is bullish on increasing the number of women in technology leadership roles and in better-paying positions — such as software engineering — at tech companies.

“You can’t keep kicking the can down the road and say, ‘It’s pipeline, it’s pipeline, it’s pipeline,’” she said. “Getting women into leadership roles can happen right now.”

At times, however, having strong and visible women in charge of technology teams or heading events isn’t enough, said Rumi Morales, a local entrepreneur and tech investor. She gave a talk earlier this year on blockchain, the software platform that powers bitcoin, and the women in attendance were vastly outnumbered by the men, Morales said. Some women still don’t feel comfortable or confident attending industry events, she said.

Morales, former head of CME Ventures, said she makes an effort to get more women to participate in financial technology events so women can see that Chicago has strong female leaders in the sector. She is on the advisory council for a group called Fintech Women, which works to attract women to the field. The formation of those types of groups is heartening, Morales said, but she’d like to see more women participating.

Ann Yeung, the new head of technology for Morningstar’s global retirement and workplace solutions group, started getting involved with women in tech initiatives a few years ago when she worked for Capital One. It was an awakening for her, and she realized she should not settle for being one of the few women in the room.

“It was like, ‘OK, this is the norm, but it really shouldn’t be the norm.

Why are we in this situation?’” she said.
Yeung, the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, said she tries to be a role model, since she’s seen many women leave midcareer to start families.

There is a growing awareness among companies of the need to accommodate new moms, which didn’t exist a decade ago when Yeung was a software engineer — and a new mom — at another company. She said she didn’t feel like she could discuss a more flexible schedule with her bosses.

“The first step to being able to make incremental change is to have this awareness and having people talking about it,” she said.

Despite the ongoing problem of underrepresentation, Chicago’s tech industry has become more welcoming toward women in recent years, and the cultural shift is noticeable, said Reva Minkoff, an 1871 member.

When she was launching her two digital marketing companies six years ago, “the tech scene was kind of a bro fest,” she said.

The founder of digital marketing companies Digital4Startups and DigitalGroundUp, Minkoff often was one of the few women at events. She received inappropriate comments at industry gatherings. Once, a man at an event took a photo of her dress without permission.

She hears fewer workplace stories that could just as well have happened in a frat house. “The good news is it’s gotten a lot better,” she said.
Efforts by coding schools, universities and others are tackling the talent pipeline issue.

Coding boot camp Fullstack Academy recently launched a track in Chicago that defers tuition for women until they land a job. The track is named for computer programming pioneer Grace Hopper, and the first group of eight students is set to graduate at the end of May.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which routinely ranks among the top engineering schools in the country, the percentage of undergraduate computer science majors who are women rose to almost 26 percent for the current school year, up from 12 percent four years ago.

Among startups spun out of Illinois universities in the past five years, 28 percent have a female founder, according to a recent report from the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. That’s higher than the 16 percent of startups globally that have a women founder, according to Crunchbase, a tech company database.

At 1871, efforts to further the careers of female entrepreneurs predate Ziegler’s arrival. The WiSTEM program, which connects women with capital and tech resources, began in 2015 with 13 participants.
WiSTEM graduate Jamie Migdal said women in tech are focused on their work, but industry initiatives help bring attention the change they are creating.

“Once in a while we lift our heads up and say, ‘Oh, that’s cool; there are more of us.’ But let’s just keep working,” said Migdal, who founded FetchFind, which provides employee training to businesses that deal with animals.

While women in the industry see progress on several fronts, many say the lack of funding for the companies they create is a persistent challenge.

Only 0.2 percent of the nearly $2 billion in venture capital funding that flowed to Chicago-area companies last year went to ventures with only female founders, according to data from research firm Pitchbook. Companies with at least one female founder secured almost 31 percent.

Those numbers are “horrible,” said Dimitra Georganopoulou, director of commercialization at Northwestern University’s Innovation and New Ventures Office.

The tech industry is starting to pay attention to the lack of inclusion and all the problems that stem from it, said Terri Brax, co-founder of Women Tech Founders, or WTF — an abbreviation that isn’t accidental.

That wasn’t the case three years ago, when WTF launched.

“Women were kind of invisible in the whole startup space, even in tech overall,” she said.

Companies now are discussing how to turn their organizations into places where women can excel, Brax said. There’s a spirit of camaraderie among women that’s driving the change, she said, but there’s still work to be done.

“It’s like when you push a rock up a hill; (it’s) the first push that’s so hard, and you still have the whole damn hill,” Brax said. “But you’re moving.”

App of the Week: Record Player

There’s An App Like Shazam But For Album Covers

 

Shazam has proved to be a really useful piece of kit for the casual music listeners amongst us.

Hearing a tune in the background on the office radio or in a store that spikes our interest once upon a time may have ended there. A potentially momentarily frustrating situation if ever there was one.

Along came Shazam to solve such a problem, easing our mysterious musical woes. Just hold your phone up to the sound and the app will tell you what song it is as well as nudging you towards purchasing it on iTunes (support the music man).

It was obviously fairly popular as Apple bought the service last year for around $400 million.

Record Player has seen those successes and applied it to something more visual. Album covers.

The concept is simple. You’re browsing a record store and you see an album that tickles your fancy – however you may not have listened to it properly in the past. Vinyl isn’t exactly cheap so you may want to take the record out for a ‘test run’.

Snap a picture of the cover and the app will use the Google Cloud Vision API and the Spotify API to bring up the playlist on Spotify.

According to Billboard and Nielsen Music, vinyl LP sales have reached a record high, accounting for 14% of all U.S. physical album sales in 2017, an 11% increase from 2016.

Download Record Player for iOS here

Download Record Player for Android here

 

Do you have a favorite reference app like Shazam or Record Player? Tell us about it in the comments below!!

How to: master Split View on the Mac

 

 

 

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

Split view on the iPad is amazing. Two apps, side-by-side, open up all kinds of neat shortcuts. You can drag text, links, and pictures from Safari into notes apps, emails, Pages documents and so on. The Mac is less in need of such a mode, because screens are bigger, and you can already place two windows side-by-side, but on a little MacBook, where every 1/64th inch counts, Split View is a great feature. Here’s how to use it.

Split View on the Mac

Split View on the Mac is possibly harder to use than on the iPad, but once you get used to it it works just as well. Instead of grabbing an app icon and dropping it onto your workspace, like on the iPad, Mac Split-View uses app windows. So, how do you grab a window on the Mac? After all, we grab and drag Mac windows all day long, and they never try to go into a full-screen split view.

To enter Split View on the Mac, you have to click and drag on the green full-screen button at the top left of any window. Doing so will drop you into Split mode. The menubar disappears, your window shrinks, and a transparent gray block covers half the screen. This block is the target for Split View. Drag your window to the left of the right of the screen, and then drop it.

That’s step one. Once you have dropped your window into one half of the screen, the other half gets filled with miniature versions of all the other app windows that are open. Just click on any one of these to select it as the partner to your first window. Boom, as they say. You’re now in Split View, with two apps each using half the screen, with no menubar. It’s very Zen.

Enter Split View when you’re already in full-screen

If you already have an app in full-screen view, you can add another app to make it a Split View. To do so, swipe up on the trackpad with four fingers to Open Mission Control. This opens a section at the top of the screen showing your full-screen apps. Just grab an app window from the lower section of the screen, and drag it onto the full-screen app in the top section. That’s it. The apps will share the screen 50:50.

How to resize apps in Mac Split View

Just like on iPad, you can resize your windows in Split View. To do so, hover the mouse pointer over the line that splits the apps. The mouse pointer will turn into a horizontal, double-ended arrow. Use this to drag the centerline and resize the app windows. On iOS, you can only split 50:50 or (roughly) 70:30. On the Mac, there are no such restrictions. You can resize the windows however you like, although there is a minimum width for the smaller window.

How to exit Split View on the Mac

You can exit Split View, in two ways. You can click the green full-screen button of one of the apps, and that app will shrink back into a normal window. The other app will be left as a full-screen app, which you can return to using Mission Control.

The other method is to hit the Escape key, which does the same thing. I find the Escape shortcut quite annoying, because sometimes I’m using the escape key for something else, and I end up getting kicked out of Split View.

 

Do you know any slick tricks like this for the Mac? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Tips & Tricks: The Easy Trick That Will Help You Organize Your iPhone Apps Faster

 

 

By Emily Petsko of MentalFloss.com

With millions of apps to choose from, your smartphone’s home screen might get a little cluttered from time to time. Holding and dragging apps one by one to organize them can seem like more of a chore than it’s worth, but fortunately, there’s an easier way to do it.

As spotted by Finer Tech, iOS 11 lets you lump multiple apps together to move at the same time. With one hand, tap and hold an app until it enters “jiggle mode” and move it away from its current location. With your other hand (or other finger, if you’re particularly coordinated), tap the apps you’d like to move with it, and they’ll instantly be grouped together.

If you’re hoping to trick yourself into using your social media apps less by moving them all to page three (as some experts recommend), this hack will save you a few minutes of dragging and dropping.

This video provides a handy demonstration of how it’s done:

While you’re at it, you might as well uninstall any apps you haven’t touched since you downloaded them, as they can be a drain on both memory and battery.

What’s your favorite way of organizing your apps? Sound off in the in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 5/4/18

Welcome to my world…
Black lawmakers are impatient with tech’s lack of diversity and are threatening regulation to force the issue

 

This is too insane not to be true…
Drone ‘swarm’ buzzed off FBI surveillance bods, says tech bloke

 

Hard to do when the guys that make them are socially retarded….
Making technology socially responsible

 

Great…being single has been so easy up to this point…
Tech is turning love into a rightwing game

 

Wait…what?!
Do patents tell us what’s next for bicycle technology? Not necessarily.

 

Budget friendly and tech are not 2 words used together very often…
Essential (and budget-friendly) tech I use every day

 

I love how this is a thing now…
Addicted to your smartphone? Technology is trying to help

 

This is a cool use of drones.
Intel drones offer high-tech help to restore the Great Wall of China

 

Good idea…
Co-founders of dating app Huggle on their mission to change social media, one app at a time

Tales from the Orchard: How Apple Killed Innovation

 

 

 

By Simon Rockman of Forbes

Mobile World Congress 2018 was strange. All the innovation was in the network side, handsets have become boring. While those touting 5G were talking about network slicing, full duplex radio, millimetre waves and massive MIMO, the handset folks seemed to think a better camera, smaller bezels and painful emojis were in some way special.

Phones were not always like that. Back before Barcelona it was the 3GSM, which those of us on What Mobile Magazine called the Cannes Phone Festival. Each handset manufacturer had something new and exciting. Maybe it was the 8810, Razr or P800, all fabulous innovative phones. Sometimes it was the N-gage, V.box or Serenata. At least they tried.

But somehow there is the Orwellian myth that Apple invented the Smartphone. Indeed there was a recent BBC radio documentary charting the need to de-tox from smartphones which said ‘now the country which invented the smartphone is working on the cure’. I did a triple-take. Was the BBC saying that Apple invented the smartphone? It was, so Radio 4 was wrong, but America did invent the smartphone, it’s just that the SIMON was an IBM invention. So the BBC was right, but didn’t know it. SIMON was the first ever smartphone, with predictive text and a touch screen 13 years before Steve Jobs sprinkled marketing fairy dust over an overpriced 2G phone with severe signalling problems, broken Bluetooth and the inability to send a picture message.

Nothing in the iPhone was something which hadn’t been seen before, it’s often seen as the flagbearer for the devices we have in our pockets, and maybe it was: Apple showed that marketing was more important than technology. The mobile phone industry is suffering the consequences, not only has Apple sucked all the revenue out of the rest of the industry it imposes huge technical challenges by ignoring standards.

I work at a mobile network which doesn’t sell Apple products and yet we’ve had to spend a huge amount of time and money making sure that our customers don’t get corrupted messages when they are sent from an iPhone.

We went from a world of bars, flips, clams, sliders and rotators each with a design language where you could spot the manufacturer from styling cues to a world of two designs. Phones that looked like an iPhone and phones that looked like a Blackberry. Now all phones are just black rectangles.

Apple charges operators through the nose. It’s taken all the portal revenue and now no-one makes any money out of devices so there is no fundamental research done. It all comes down to what Qualcomm and MediaTek tell the manufacturers to make. Testing phones is hard, very, very hard and it’s about to become many times more difficult with 5G where the complexities of mmWave testing mean you can’t use cables and all testing has to be done over the air in an expensive-to-rent anechoic chamber.

So everyone plays it safe.

 

It’s not like the ideas are not out there. Plucky Brit start-up Planet Computers has built the Gemini  , The gestating Monohm Runcible , and there are some amazing concepts like the Arcphone which is inspired by the Motorola Razr.

Just googling ‘concept phone’ will bring up a swathe of ideas.

But there is hope. Not just in the form of small companies doing interesting things. Indeed not even in that hope. Planet are very unusual in shipping a product the vast majority fall by the wayside.

The hope comes in the death of the smartphone. You see smart is escaping. It will no longer reside in the one device you stare at but become omnipresent. One trend at Mobile World Congress was increased virtual assistants. Samsung will be there with a dedicated Bixby device, T-Mobile wants you to shout “OK Magenta”, and Telefonica has announced commercialisation of its product. All this follows on the heels of Alexa and her friends. And people like the devices.

As your cooker, television and bath all become smart there is less need for the single smartphone.  What is the phone today will become something else and we’ll go back to the time when phones were used for voice.

Such generational changes are normal, when I started in the analogue mobile phone industry the dominant, unassailable handset manufacturers were Motorola and NEC. It became Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola. The belief that the status quo of today with a dominant Samsung and Apple is to fail to remember the future. Peak Apple? Maybe not yet, but we are well past peak innovation and the disruption can not come soon enough.

WIT: Why female leaders and enterprise businesses need each other

 

By Jonathan Crowl of Mobile Business Insights

If you’re a woman seeking a career in enterprise technology, you already know it’s an uphill battle. However, times are changing for women in technology and other industries. A greater push for gender equality is taking place across all industries, with women demanding equal pay while also advocating for equal representation at all levels of leadership.

According to By The Numbers, 26 percent of professional computing occupations in the US were held by women in 2017. This push is shaping a range of opportunities for aspiring female leaders, as businesses and executive leaders work to create channels for upward female mobility. Here are the ways women are seizing new opportunities to become enterprise leaders and transform the tech industry.

The business case for gender equality

 

Many organizations are trying to increase the number of women in all positions, including senior leadership — but it isn’t out of the goodness of their hearts. Increasingly, businesses recognize the value of having women represented at all levels of their enterprise.

Several years ago, a study by Credit Suisse found that companies with at least one woman on their executive board outperformed competitors with no female board members by 26 percent. More recently, a study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics examined 21,980 companies around the world and found that companies with strong female leadership earned a 36 percent better return on equity than companies lacking strong female representation.

Yet the evidence behind the benefits of female leaders hasn’t translated into broad representation at all — or even most — tech companies. According to Business Insider, women hold just 11 percent of executive roles in Silicon Valley. But gradually, women in technology are building pathways to help aspiring female leaders advance to higher positions at their organizations.

Growing mentorship opportunities for women in technology

One of the greatest catalysts for change with regards to representation of women in technology has been through concerted efforts by current female leaders to offer mentorship to younger female workers. These mentorship roles provide much-needed guidance and career counseling to women in tech eager to advance through the ranks while navigating the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated world. According to Built in Boston, multiple female executives working in tech are involved in mentoring ambitious younger workers to support them early in their careers.

Another common thread identified among these executives: Great work is eventually rewarded. While challenges may exist in creating opportunities and being given fair consideration in a male-dominated culture, many believe that a woman who proves her expertise will eventually find opportunities at the executive level.

These efforts to build a strong resume can also be supplemented by mentorship from other female leaders. Women can also take advantage of leadership development programs targeting women as well as networking and skills-building opportunities at conferences geared toward female leadership and tech.

Developing skills in high demand

 

One way aspiring female enterprise leaders can bolster their own career opportunities is by concentrating their efforts on developing high-demand skills suited for the future of enterprise technology. While many sectors of IT report a shortage of skilled employees and hiring prospects to fill important roles within the organization, some aspects of IT operations are particularly starved for qualified candidates.

According to CSO Online, the global cybersecurity industry is poised to experience a 3.5 million-person shortfall for jobs by 2021, underscoring an urgent need to develop and hire professionals qualified to serve in these enterprise roles. Women in tech aiming for leadership roles would be wise to identify these areas of need and to begin developing a resume that makes them well qualified for these roles in the future.

In the case of cybersecurity, recent waves of attacks — combined with the proliferation of IoT technology — have resulted in rapid technology developments that haven’t been matched by comparable strides in cybersecurity. This has created an opportunity for aspiring young professionals to build skill sets that will be leaned upon heavily in the near future.

How men can help

 

As women seek leadership opportunities in a traditionally male-dominated field, men can serve as vital allies in this process. Code Like a Girl highlights a number of ways men can support female empowerment in tech. These include educating themselves on the historic inequities of women in tech — and, more generally, the professional world — and performing small acts like making a more concerted effort to retweet women on Twitter. Men can also co-sign a Decency Pledge, posted on Medium and other websites, which seeks allies determined to work for and protect the rights of female entrepreneurs.

Men also should consider how their voices can support and validate the drive for greater equity in female leadership, particularly when it comes to calling out bad behavior on social media and advocating for changes and actions that support women in their own workplaces.

Women in technology have traditionally been an underrepresented group, but business culture is slowly changing, and many companies now realize that the presence of women in tech leadership roles can have a positive impact on the entire organization. By seizing upon opportunities to develop leadership skills, young women can build a platform to launch themselves into important leadership and executive roles, bringing much-needed fresh perspectives to organizations in the process.


What do think of women’s roles in enterprise tech? Tell us about it in the comments below?

App of the Week: Countable

Countable makes following Congress easy as long as you use Facebook

By Kelly Hodgkins of Engadget

Countable is a political app that allows you to track important and trending legislation on your iPhone. The app is designed to make government accessible to the average citizen by explaining legislation in understandable terms. There’s also a social side to Countable that provides the ability to voice your support or opposition to a bill as well as track your representatives to see how close their votes match yours. .

Countable has two main objectives. First and foremost, it allows people to follow bills as they make their way through the legislative process. You can quickly view trending bills that are up for vote or making headline news because they are controversial. You also can explore less popular bills that are organized by topic. All this information is available without a login and is accessible by clicking on “Login Later” link at the bottom right of the launch screen.

Besides tracking bills, Countable also allows you to participate in the legislative process by providing the ability to virtually vote on legislation. You can track your representatives, view their voting records and send them emails that voice your opinion on bills. Unfortunately, this portion of the app requires a login. The login option is understandable as it is used to save your voting history, but the only login option available is Facebook. Many users, myself included, are hesitant to share my Facebook credentials with any app, especially one of a political nature.

Overall, Countable is a wonderful tool for anyone who wants to follow important legislation without having to wade through the legalese wording of the bill itself. The voting side is crippled by a Facebook login, but hopefully a future version of the app will open that up to alternative login methods, such as email. Despite this limitation, Countable is worth the space on my device if only for the concise summaries of the legislation that is making headlines.

Countable is available for free from the iOS App Store. It is available for the iPhone and requires at least iOS 7.

Update: Countable reached out to me with the following information about the Facebook login requirement: “Countable is already working on an email login, so users will not have to use Facebook. It was something a bunch of users mentioned, and the team behind Countable listened.”

How do you stay in touch with your representative(s)? Sound off in the Comments below!

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