Face ID’s Innovation: Continuous Authentication

[VIDEO] Rich Mogull, writing for TidBITS:

Put simply, Face ID is the most compelling advancement in security I have seen in a very long time. It’s game changing not merely due to the technology, but due to Apple’s design and implementation.

And:

I believe Face ID is slower at actual recognition than Touch ID, but it’s nearly impossible to notice due to the implementation. In the time it takes to move your finger to the Touch ID sensor, Face ID could have already unlocked your iPhone.

That’s the real Face ID revolution. Since you’re almost always looking at your phone while you’re using it, Face ID enables what I call “continuous authentication.”

This is a fascinating article, worth the read. But even better, if you’ve not yet seen it, is the video embedded in Rich’s piece, which I’ve embedded in the main Loop post.

In it, Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern tries her best to defeat Face ID using siblings, triplets, and a well crafted theatrical mask.

How to make a custom ringtone for your iPhone, with GarageBand on iOS

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

With the latest version of iTunes, Apple buried the interface for making ringtones on the Mac. It’s still possible but a lot more cumbersome to manage.

A little-known secret is that you can actually make custom alert an ringtones for iOS on your iPhone itself, using GarageBand. Here’s how.

If you like playing with sound, this is a fun, achievable project to take on.

Clips introduces Selfie Scenes for immersive, 360-degree selfies on iPhone X

Apple:

Apple today announced a major update to Clips, the free app for iOS that makes it easy to create and share fun videos using iPhone or iPad. Clips introduces Selfie Scenes and adds artistic style transfer effects and a redesigned interface that makes it easier than ever to create great videos on the go.

Selfie Scenes is an exciting new feature that places users into animated, 360-degree scenes when recording selfies. Using the sophisticated TrueDepth camera system on iPhone X, Selfie Scenes transports users into bustling cities, serene landscapes, abstract paintings and even the Millennium Falcon and Mega-Destroyer from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

And:

New artistic effects use advanced machine learning and style transfer technology to turn any photo or video into a moody oil painting, vibrant watercolor or elegant pencil sketch — in real time while recording.

Follow the headline link and watch the video, check out the samples. The fact that that last bit is done in real time, while recording, is amazing to me.

Apple passes Samsung for lead in global smartphone market share

Follow the headline link, take a look at the chart. Note the market share rankings. Samsung steadily falling, Apple makes a big gain in that last quarter.

From the TrendForce report:

Samsung is expected to slightly scale back the production of its high-end models in the fourth quarter as the brand is seeing the sales of its smartphones being squeezed by the strong demand for Apple’s latest iPhone devices.

And:

As for highly anticipated iPhone X, the yield rates of its key components (e.g. Wi-Fi modules and 3D sensing modules) have been lower than expected, thus delaying production of the device. With the limited support from iPhone X, Apple was not able to significantly raise its total volume.

On the other hand, TrendForce estimates that the iPhone production volume for this fourth quarter will reach 81 million units with iPhone X accounting for 33% of the total. TrendForce expects a surge of iPhone X production that will last through the first half of 2018.

If the limited component yield rates comment is true, Apple was able to make this leap while a bit hamstrung, which would mean this surge in production (and in demand) will last longer.

Good news for Apple all the way around.

The iOS 11 camera “floor crosshair”

From Cabel Sasser on Twitter:

https://www.twitter.com/cabel/status/927983729137483776

First things first, this is a great new feature. To see it for yourself, go to Settings > Camera, and make sure that Grid is enabled.

Now, when you tilt your camera flat and facing the floor (or, interestingly, the ceiling), a crosshair will appear.

But what really struck me was reading the replies to the thread, where the Apple developer who created the feature as an intern chimes in. For all its faults, this is the gold heart of Twitter.

“It suddenly dawns on you that your face has unlocked the phone”

Nice chunk from T3’s iPhone X review:

It suddenly dawns on your that your face has indeed unlocked the phone. It’s a strange moment. We hadn’t had to make any effort to unlock it. And that’s what Face ID is supposed to be like.

Just so.

Also, this was interesting:

It isn’t the barrier that you imagine it could be, though we did find it a little weird to have to make sure our face was available when using Apple Pay! Now, Samsung’s facial recognition (to unlock the Note 8 and S8) is close to Face ID. We were impressed at the ease at which it unlocks the Note 8 recently. But it doesn’t do anything else. Because Face ID is so baked into iOS it means that you rarely need your passcode. And it’s not just about unlocking your phone with the iPhone X, it’s about Apple Pay, App Store payments and more.

Face ID is baked into the OS, in just the same way as Touch ID is on earlier models.

Pandora has lost $1B in 4 years, now worth less than ever. Salvageable?

Music Business Worldwide:

When Pandora Media launched on the NYSE in June 2011, it started trading at $16 a share – with a $2.6bn valuation.

Optimism was rife for music’s big digital play on the stock market. The expectation was that the firm’s valuation, and global presence, would soar.

Today, over six years on, Pandora is worth less than a third of what it was that day, at under $5 per share.

And, according to MBW’s calculations, there’s even sorrier news for the firm’s new regime to contemplate: Pandora has now lost over a billion dollars in less than four years.

I hate the math, but it is the math. To me, Pandora hasn’t lost value as a music service. They still serve the same purpose, offer the same set of services. The loss is financial. But that’s what counts in this situation.

It gets worse: as recently as summer 2016, SiriusXM reportedly made a bid to acquire Pandora for $3.4bn, or $15 per share.

That’s more than three times what Pandora’s worth now.

The offer was rejected.

Ouch.

You can now view detailed App Store and iTunes purchase history on iOS

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Apple today is making it easier for users to view purchase history directly from their iOS devices. The company revealed in an updated support document today that you can now view your App Store and iTunes purchase history in the Settings app on iOS.

Previously, as the support document notes, this functionality was only available through iTunes on Mac and PC. While you could view purchase history via the App Store and iTunes Store on iOS, it was purely for re-downloading purposes and didn’t show detailed pricing information.

Here’s the referenced Apple knowledge base article.

I followed the instructions, jumped through the hoops, tapped Purchase History and it worked as advertised. Good to know.

The iPhone X versus a professional video camera

[VIDEO] FStoppers ran a long, side-by-side comparison test, shooting various video modes (including 4K/60fps) on both an iPhone X and a professional video camera.

The video (embedded in the main Loop post) is worth watching, all the way through. In a nutshell, for most use cases, the iPhone X looks every bit as good, if not better, than its bigger, bulkier, more expensive counterpart.

Jason Snell: One week with the iPhone X

Jason Snell:

My Apple review unit is silver; on Friday the Space Gray iPhone X I bought with my own money arrived. With both of them here, I have to admit that I may have made the wrong choice.

My 2 cents? Though I’ve always preferred Space Gray, I think the silver iPhone X is stunning.

Look at the picture Jason took at a football game, about 20 rows back. That’s amazing detail, especially considering how far away he was from the field.

And this comment, on using the iPhone X laying flat on a table:

I’m loving iPhone X in almost all the places I use it. The gestures are becoming second nature to me. But there’s one use case where it doesn’t really work: laying on a table. And it doesn’t work there for several reasons. The sizable camera bump makes the whole thing unstable. Facing straight up, the Face ID camera can’t see me, so I can’t unlock my phone without leaning way over the table or picking the phone up. And attention detection can’t detect me, so after 30 seconds the screen dims.

Worth noting. I’m wondering if there’s a fix for this. If not, perhaps Apple could add a mode that detects laying flat on the table, or a gesture to temporarily disengage attention detection.

Great review from Jason, per usual.

An iPhone X, plated in 24K gold

[VIDEO] That’s some bling. This for you? Video and link to the site that does the gold plating in the main Loop post.

Apple: 52% of devices are now using iOS 11

Apple has updated their pie chart. Amazingly, more than half of all devices have updated to iOS 11, which was released less than 2 months ago. Let’s take a look at the adoption rates of iOS and Android side by […]

How to find the model number for your iPhone X or iPhone 8

There are four models each for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. The models correspond to carriers and bands available for each phone.

Now that Apple no longer puts the model information on the back of the phone, you’ll need to dig into Settings or look in the SIM slot. Rene Ritchie lays out all the details.

Bloomberg: Apple to ramp up work on augmented reality headset, fork new OS

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc., seeking a breakthrough product to succeed the iPhone, aims to have technology ready for an augmented-reality headset in 2019 and could ship a product as early as 2020.

Unlike the current generation of virtual reality headsets that use a smartphone as the engine and screen, Apple’s device will have its own display and run on a new chip and operating system, according to people familiar with the situation.

And:

Apple began putting together a team to work on AR-related projects a couple of years ago, Bloomberg reported in March. Led by Mike Rockwell, who previously ran engineering at Dolby Labs, the group has now grown to several hundred engineers from across Apple, the people said. Scattered across office parks in both Cupertino and Sunnyvale, California, the team is working on several hardware and software projects under the umbrella code name of “T288.”

And:

The new operating system, internally dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system,” is based on iOS, the iPhone’s operating system. Just as tvOS powers the Apple TV, macOS runs on Macs and watchOS runs on Apple Watches, “rOS” will power Apple’s AR headset. Geoff Stahl, formerly a software manager for games and graphics at Apple, is one of the directors of the “rOS” software group.

Take with a grain of salt, but none of this is hard to believe.

Some Google Pixel 2 XL oleophobic coatings are already wearing off, leaving behind smudges

Ben Schoon, 9to5Google:

Almost every Android smartphone ships with an oleophobic coating on the glass, and the purpose of that is to help make fingerprints easier to get off of the display. In short, it keeps the oil from your fingertips from adhering to the glass, and it also makes water easier to wipe away.

Over time, this coating wears off, but it usually takes at least a few months or years of intense usage. On the Pixel 2 XL, however, some owners are having this come up within just a couple of weeks.

iPhones have shipped with an oleophobic coating, starting with the iPhone 3GS. This is mature technology. Surprising to see this issue crop up with the Pixel 2.

I’ve got an email in to Google PR asking about this issue, will update this post if and when I get a reply.

The 100-megapixel Moon

SyFyWire, on an epic image of the moon created by artist Seán Doran:

I have seen the Moon countless times through my own telescopes in the past, and it’s never looked as breathtaking as this! Mind you, I had to shrink this shot considerably to get it to fit here; this is about 2,000 pixels wide.

And:

But then, this isn’t a single image: It’s a mosaic composed of images taken using the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) on board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a NASA mission that has been circling the Moon since 2009.

And:

To get the correct perspective for the Moon as a globe, Doran took the images, along with altimeter data, and mapped them onto a sphere. That way features near the edge look foreshortened, as they really do when you look at the entire Moon. He also used Apollo images to make sure things lined up. So the image isn’t exactly scientifically rigorous, but it is certainly spectacular.

You can download a 16 MB version of the image here. Or go here and pan and zoom on a much larger version.

[Via Kottke.org]

The very short history of Animoji Karaoke, with lots of examples

Harry McCracken invented Animoji Karaoke about a week ago:

As I used a pre-release iPhone X this week, it suddenly occurred to me that it might be fun to lip-sync a song to an Animoji and have it mimic my performance. I dubbed the idea “Animoji Karaoke” and have been filling my Twitter feed with it. Judging from my likes, retweets, and comments, I haven’t just been entertaining myself; some people said that it redeemed Animoji or justifed buying a thousand-dollar phone. Even cynics have taken notice of my breakthrough.

Harry’s efforts have spawned a tidal wave of similar efforts. If you’ve never seen one before, here’s a great example:

https://www.twitter.com/manxomemia/status/926660732162154496

A few more worth checking out:

Good stuff.

Austin Mann’s detailed iPhone X camera review

[VIDEO] One thing I love about Austin Mann’s reviews is that they focus on real-life scenarios, as opposed to numbers and grades.

Read the review, check out all the images, watch the embedded videos. You’ll definitely get a sense of what Austin sees in the iPhone X display and camera.

One particular video to make sure you watch is the one embedded in the main Loop post. It shows the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X displays side-by-side. The difference in the black-point for each display is obvious and, to me at least, surprisingly far apart. That iPhone X display is gorgeous.

Delight

Ever since the iPhone X rollout, I’ve been struggling to put into words that feeling the iPhone X brought to the table, something that’s been missing from iPhone rollouts for some time.

When iPhone X release day hit, lots of other people felt that thing. Suddenly, there were lines again. The iPhone X display at the Apple Store was mobbed. That magic thing was back.

Ben Thompson, Stratechery:

I’m spoiled, I know: gifted with the rationalization of being a technology analyst, I buy an iPhone every year. Even so, I thought the iPhone 7 was a solid upgrade: it was noticeably faster, had an excellent screen, and the camera was great; small wonder it sold in record number everywhere but China.

What it lacked, though — and I didn’t fully appreciate this until I got an iPhone X — was delight.

Yup. That’s the word. Delight.

Face ID isn’t perfect: there are a lot of edge cases where having Touch ID would be preferable. By its fourth iteration in the iPhone 7, Touch ID was utterly dependable and, like the best sort of technology, barely noticeable.

FaceID takes this a step further: while it takes a bit of time to change engrained habits, I’m already at the point where I simply pick up the phone and swipe up without much thought; authenticating in apps like 1Password is even more of a revelation — you don’t have to actually do anything.

And:

The trick Apple pulled, though, was going beyond that: the first time I saw notifications be hidden and then revealed (as in the GIF above) through simply a glance produced the sort of surprise-and-delight that has traditionally characterized Apple’s best products.

Apple has found its inner delight. And that, as Ben so rightly puts it, is Apple at its best.

DisplayMate on iPhone X display: “superbly accurate, high performance, and gorgeous”

DisplayMate:

Switching from LCDs to OLEDs is a major engineering and manufacturing challenge, so I was eager to test and evaluate the new OLED iPhone X.

The result: Apple has produced an impressive Smartphone display with excellent performance and accuracy, which we cover in extensive detail below. What makes the iPhone X the Best Smartphone Display is the impressive Precision Display Calibration Apple developed, which transforms the OLED hardware into a superbly accurate, high performance, and gorgeous display, with close to Text Book Perfect Calibration and Performance!

There is a huge amount of detail here, a terrific take on OLED and on the iPhone X display in particular. No small feat for Apple that DisplayMate named the iPhone X as Best Smartphone Display.

[H/T John Kordyback]

Samsung returns to its Apple mocking ways

[VIDEO] I thought this ad (embedded in the main Loop post) was well done, though the story is told with selective memory. I did not see any exploding phones, porous security measures, malware, etc., etc.

The one word that springs to mind watching this is the one word that describes the true feeling the iPhone X must bring to mind for Samsung.

Worry.

The iPhone X face mapping: Privacy risks (none) and how it works (very cool)

Lots of interesting tidbits in the linked TechCrunch article. Here are a few highlights:

As we’ve covered off in detail before Apple does not have access to the depth-mapped facial blueprints that users enroll when they register for Face ID. A mathematical model of the iPhone X user’s face is encrypted and stored locally on the device in a Secure Enclave.

Face ID also learns over time and some additional mathematical representations of the user’s face may also be created and stored in the Secure Enclave during day to day use

And:

The key point here is that Face ID data never leaves the user’s phone (or indeed the Secure Enclave). And any iOS app developers wanting to incorporate Face ID authentication into their apps do not gain access to it either. Rather authentication happens via a dedicated authentication API that only returns a positive or negative response after comparing the input signal with the Face ID data stored in the Secure Enclave.

Some people have pointed to the detailed face mapping accessed via ARKit and expressed concerns about privacy with 3rd party developers access to that data:

With the iPhone X developers can access ARKit for face-tracking to power their own face-augmenting experiences — such as the already showcased face-masks in the Snap app.

“This new ability enables robust face detection and positional tracking in six degrees of freedom. Facial expressions are also tracked in real-time, and your apps provided with a fitted triangle mesh and weighted parameters representing over 50 specific muscle movements of the detected face,” writes Apple.

And:

Now it’s worth emphasizing that developers using this API are not getting access to every datapoint the TrueDepth camera system can capture. This is also not literally recreating the Face ID model that’s locked up in the Secure Enclave — and which Apple touts as being accurate enough to have a failure rate as small as one in one million times.

The data being shared via ARKit is a small sample of what’s used for Face ID, and it is missing key details, like attention detection data.

The linked article goes into a lot more detail and is an interesting read.

As to how Face ID works, take a look at the video embedded in this tweet from The Verge’s Nilay Patel. Before you click, note that there are flashing lights that might trigger a reaction in some people. The embedded video really gives a sense of the dot projector at work. Fascinating stuff.

Trailer for soon-to-be-released movie, “App: The Human Story”

[VIDEO] From the App: The Human Story web site:

With the launch of the iPhone and subsequent devices, developers found themselves with a worldwide market hungry for their innovations: apps.

Yet, a renaissance needs cultivation, not exploitation. Ten years in, is the opportunity gone? Will artists find a way to create tools that elevate the human experience, or will the market be valued even above the impact to the future of the industry?

I am really looking forward to seeing this. Enjoy the trailer (embedded in the main Loop post).

[VIDEO] Apple’s official iPhone X guided tour

[VIDEO] Thinking about getting an iPhone X? This is a well crafted guide to the iPhone X, with particular focus on gestures. Bravo, Apple. This is really helpful. Video embedded in the main Loop post.

iOS bug autocorrects letter “i” to “A” plus unicode symbol. Here’s a workaround and a clue to the cause.

Over the weekend, a steadily growing number of iPhone users were reporting a bug where they’d type the letter “i”, but iOS would autocorrect it to “A” plus a strange symbol (a “?” in a box).

Contrary to some rumors, this behavior is not spreading from phone to phone, or via Twitter. It is limited to iOS 11.1 and any spread is due to updates to iOS 11.1 and spread of awareness.

Note that not everyone running iOS 11.1 sees this and it is not clear what triggers this behavior.

Apple posted this knowledge base article suggesting you do a text replacement for the letter “i”. Obviously, that’s a temporary workaround until Apple releases a patch, which should be soon.

As to the cause, here’s Jeremy Burge from Emojipedia:

What’s really going on is that the letter “I” is being appended with an invisible character known as Variation Selector 16 when auto-correct kicks in to replace the lowercase “i”.

This VS-16 character is intended to be used to make the previous character have emoji appearance.[1] When used in conjunction with the letter “I” it displays in some apps as “A ⍰”.

The correct behaviour should be to ignore the invisible variation selector if the previous character doesn’t have an emoji version.

Here’s more detail on Variation Selector 16.

This will all be a bad (fond?) memory in a few days, when Apple ships their patch and it quickly makes its way to iPhones around the world.

UPDATE: And there’s this tweet, showing the “i” bug mutating. Is autocorrect learning?