The raw power of the Apple Watch Series 4

Watch the video embedded in this tweet. As the wheel turns, keep your eye on the little balls:

https://twitter.com/stroughtonsmith/status/1047188165369495552

That’s not a simulator. That’s an app running on an Apple Watch Series 4. I wish the video was a bit longer, just to make it easier to appreciate the physics of the turning wheel and the gravity-obeying balls. There’s a lot of math going on and it’s all being rendered in real time.

Wow!

Incredibly detailed Lego model of Apple Park

Dezeen:

This mini version of Apple’s Cupertino campus is made entirely of Lego, and was modelled on drone footage taken during construction.

The Lego Apple Park depicts the 175-acre (71-hectare) expanse of California’s Santa Clara Valley at 1/650th of its real size. The model includes Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed ring-shaped headquarters, ancillary buildings, and large areas of surrounding foliage.

Follow the link to read about the project and check out some closeups. [H/T Roman Meliška]

Apple strongly denies Bloomberg report of Chinese spy chips in hardware

From this morning’s Bloomberg report titled The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies:

Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.

And:

One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Apple severed ties with Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons.

Apple’s response to Bloomberg:

“On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” Apple wrote. “We remain unaware of any such investigation,” wrote a spokesman for Supermicro, Perry Hayes. The Chinese government didn’t directly address questions about manipulation of Supermicro servers, issuing a statement that read, in part, “Supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern, and China is also a victim.” The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, representing the CIA and NSA, declined to comment.

And another Apple reply, from this CNBC article:

Apple has issued strong denials of the report, stating: “We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg’s reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed. Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs. That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple.”

The Bloomberg article is a fascinating read. Scary possibilities, and amazing that someone figured this out.

Every Apple TV screensaver: 4K, 60FPS, and 20x speed

[VIDEO] If you are at all a fan of the Apple TV flyover screensavers, this video (embedded in the main Loop post) is terrifically fun to watch.

Here’s the order of the clips, from the video info section:

  • 00:00 China – 6 clips (3 clips 4K, 3 clips 1080p)
  • 01:29 Dubai – 6 (4K)
  • 03:33 Greenland – 3 (2x 4K, 1x 1080p)
  • 04:48 Hawaii – 6 (1080p)
  • 06:00 Hong Kong – 5 (4K)
  • 08:23 Int’l Space Station – 13 (4K) ⭐️locations below⭐️
  • 10:57 Liwa – 1 (4K)
  • 11:18 London – 4 (1080p)
  • 12:16 Los Angeles – 6 (4K)
  • 14:17 New York City – 5 (1080p)
  • 15:15 San Francisco – 11 (1080p)

ISS Locations:

  • 08:23 Africa (night)
  • 08:35 Africa and the Middle East
  • 08:52 California to Vegas
  • 09:01 Caribbean
  • 09:12 Caribbean Day
  • 09:30 China
  • 09:32 Iran and Afghanistan
  • 09:37 Ireland to Asia
  • 09:47 Korea and Japan (night)
  • 10:01 New Zealand
  • 10:12 Sahara and Italy
  • 10:29 Southern California to Baja
  • 10:44 West Africa to the Alps

Enjoy!

Shot on iPhone XS: Users share their best

Follow the link, and just start scrolling. These are some gorgeous photos. If you’ve not felt the pull to upgrade to the iPhone XS, this will definitely tug that particular string.

Google streaming a blockbuster video game

Google blog:

We’ve been working on Project Stream, a technical test to solve some of the biggest challenges of streaming. For this test, we’re going to push the limits with one of the most demanding applications for streaming—a blockbuster video game.

We’ve partnered with one of the most innovative and successful video game publishers, Ubisoft, to stream their soon-to-be released Assassin’s Creed Odyssey® to your Chrome browser on a laptop or desktop. Starting on October 5, a limited number of participants will get to play the latest in this best-selling franchise at no charge for the duration of the Project Stream test.

And:

The idea of streaming such graphically-rich content that requires near-instant interaction between the game controller and the graphics on the screen poses a number of challenges. When streaming TV or movies, consumers are comfortable with a few seconds of buffering at the start, but streaming high-quality games requires latency measured in milliseconds, with no graphic degradation.

This is a big deal. This is less about streaming a video game and more about making a major improvement to streaming latency. This has implications in the gaming console market, for sure, reducing the need for a high end console that is separate from a desktop computer.

But this also might impact the delivery of video itself, impacting services like Netflix and YouTube. Very interesting.

Why cops can force you to unlock your iPhone with your face, and how to disable Face ID

Wired:

“Big picture, a warrant is required for the search of a device except in certain circumstances at the border,” says Greg Nojeim, director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology. In the newly reported Face ID case, police did have a warrant to compel 28-year-old Grant Michalski of Ohio to unlock his smartphone, and Michalski has gone on to face child pornography charges.

And:

“There might be less intrusion and physical coercion with forcing a faceprint versus a fingerprint.”

This is an important test case and precedent and this Wired article is an interesting read.

In related news, in New Zealand, Travellers refusing to hand over phone password at airport now face $5000 Customs fine. That’s one way to get folks to hand over the keys.

And finally, here’s how to disable Face ID:

https://twitter.com/JonyIveParody/status/1046743253985488898

Apple adds support for contactless student ID cards in Wallet

Apple:

Starting today, students at three universities are among the first to enjoy the convenience of using just their iPhone and Apple Watch to get around on and off campus. At Duke University and the Universities of Alabama and Oklahoma, students can now add their ID card to Apple Wallet and use it to pay quickly and easily for laundry, coffee or lunch, and even get into their dorms, the gym or the school library.

This is a brilliant move, making iOS desirable for every new generation of students.

Amazon raises minimum wage to $15 for all US employees

Amazon:

Amazon today announced it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees across the U.S.—effective November 1. The new Amazon $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday.

This more than doubles the current hourly rate of $7.25.

Definitely a step in the right direction for Amazon, addressing one of its biggest criticisms. It’d be nice if they enhanced this move by making it easier for part time employees to work enough hours to get health benefits.

New iPhone ad: Growth Spurt

[VIDEO] Hard to wrap my head around this one. Watch the commercial (embedded in the main Loop post), then read on.

Watched it? OK. To me, the ad had nice special effects, was humorous, but seemed to be about the zoom lens, as if when you take a picture, things will appear larger. The focus was on the camera.

But check the text at the bottom of the ad page:

Everything you love just got bigger. Introducing iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Super Retina in two sizes, including the largest display on an iPhone ever.

So it’s about the display being bigger, not about the camera. Confusing message.

Feds force suspect to unlock an Apple iPhone X with their face

You cannot be forced to reveal your passcode. But Face ID is a whole different issue.

Could you defeat Face ID simply by refusing to focus on the device? And does the law allow for you to be forced to unlock your phone using your face?

“The law is not well formed to provide the intuitive protections people think about when they’re using a Face ID unlock,” Jennings said. “People aren’t typically thinking [when they use Face ID] that it’s a physical act so I don’t have this right against self-incrimination.”

Current law, obviously, was written before Face ID was a thing. So I’d expect challenges to make their way up the appeals court ladder, possibly being decided by the Supreme Court. And I’d expect new laws to be crafted specifically to address Face ID.

Fascinating issue.

Professional queuers left out in the cold at Moscow iPhone launch

Reuters:

Hundreds of Russians braved the cold and rain to queue for days outside a Moscow phone store ahead of the release of the new Apple iPhones on Friday, but when the doors opened none stepped in to buy.

And:

Banking on strong enthusiasm for the phones, which have drawn days-long queues outside stores in Singapore, Sydney and elsewhere, the queue sellers set the price of the first place at 450,000 roubles ($7,000).

Basically, the queue sellers were banking on very limited stock. But:

The store manager called out ticket numbers to invite in the first buyers, but his calls went unanswered.

Eventually, ticket holder number 247 came to the door and Russian photographer Anatoly Doroshchenko, who had arrived that morning and didn’t pay for the right to queue-jump, became the first purchaser in Russia of one of the new phones.

Sad trombone.

iPhone XS users complain about skin-smoothing selfie camera

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Over the course of the last week, the front-facing camera in the iPhone XS and XS Max has been receiving a lot of attention because the selfies captured on the new devices are drastically different from those captured with the iPhone X or earlier iPhone models.

In a MacRumors forum thread and on Reddit, Apple has been accused of using a skin-smoothing feature or a “beauty filter” for prettier selfies from the front-facing camera.

And:

When taking a selfie in a situation where lighting is less than ideal, such as indoors or outdoors in areas with lower lighting, the iPhone XS Max appears to be applying a drastic smoothing effect that can hide freckles, blemishes, and other issues.

More to the point:

In full outdoor lighting the problem is less apparent, which has led to speculation that the skin smoothing is actually a result of some heavy-handed noise reduction techniques.

The iPhone intentionally applying a “beauty filter” without specifically calling out a setting just doesn’t click for me. Heavy handed noise reduction or, perhaps, over zealous Smart HDR sounds more likely.

Turning off HDR does not remove the smoothing effect, nor does tweaking any other camera setting, so if the ultra skin smoothing is a result of something like unintentional excessive noise reduction, it needs to be tweaked on Apple’s end through a software update.

Couple of things to look at here:

My instinct here is that we are seeing unintended consequences, perhaps driven by machine learning, rather than an intentional “beautifying filter”.

Inside iOS 12: Photos

Jeff Carlson, writing for TidBITS, digs into what’s changed with the iOS 12 version of Photos.

At the core is that new For You tab. Good stuff.

The Evolution of the App Store and the App Business

Denys Zhadanov:

Why can I talk about the App Store so confidently? I have spent the last decade heading Marketing and Strategy operations at Readdle. Readdle is one of the few product companies out there that has had a presence in the App Store from the beginning and has built a successful business around it. If you have an iPhone, you’ve probably used our Documents, Spark, and Scanner Pro apps. We’ve been an independent company throughout this decade, without raising external funding; and over 100M people have downloaded our apps. Our 135 person team has built more than 40 products. 32 of them failed, but we didn’t give up.

And:

By the way, our service was available on iPhones before the App Store launched in 2008, a year after the original iPhone went on sale.

And:

Then, the call that changed our lives for good.

It was a call from the Apple HQ in Cupertino. We were sitting in Odessa when a voice over the phone briefed us, “We’re launching the App Store soon. Here’s a deadline, build an app, and maybe we’ll add it to the App Store.”

I love this story. If you are interested in the evolution of the App Store or have ever considered writing an app of your very own, put your feet up and dig in. Who better to talk App Store success than someone who was there from day one?

Twins show off logging into each other’s iPhone XS Max using Face ID

The whole identical twins logging into each other’s Face ID has been around since the beginning, but these two are just so delighted with their new “iPhone XS Plus” and the process of using their twin superpower to fool Face ID, thought it was worth sharing.

If anything, this shows how well Face ID works for normal people, even if they add a beard or a hat to their appearance.

iOS 12.1 beta shows how eSims are implemented

I am really looking forward to adding a second phone number or data plan to my phone for traveling overseas. The sense I get is that this will take time to roll out to various carriers, but I would hope that would happen reasonably quickly.

Palo Alto Apple Store robbed twice in the same day

Via 9to5Mac. Reminds me of bank robber Willie Sutton’s alleged response when asked why he robs banks:

“Because that’s where the money is.”

The hoodie bandit approach to grabbing high end merchandise from Apple Stores has proven effective. As long as a way isn’t found to stop this approach from working, this is going to continue to happen.

The holy grail of art crime

WBUR:

The heist of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is something like the holy grail of art crime — and remains so even 28 years after it happened. In a little under an hour and a half, two thieves stole 13 irreplaceable artworks from the Boston institution.

And:

In the early hours of March 18, 1990, the city of Boston was still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Two thieves dressed up in police uniforms and, at 1:24 a.m., simply rang the bell. The night security guard on duty, Rick Abath, let the two men in the Palace Road entrance. Abath called the second security guard on duty that night, Randy, back down to the desk. (Randy spoke to us on the condition that we only use his first name.) Then the would-be police officers handcuffed the two guards, and tied them up in the basement of the museum.

And:

“It was overwhelming to see what had been done. I mean to trash a museum like that. It was just like the barbarians had been through. I mean, to pull frames off the wall and shatter the glass, it was clearly not people that loved art that did that. I mean, cutting paintings out of frames. I mean, it’s unspeakable.”

Read the article, then watch the video. Fascinating.

iPhone XS Max: Jeff Benjamin’s excellent unboxing and feature walkthrough

[VIDEO] I’ve long been a fan of Jeff Benjamin’s videos for 9to5Mac. In this one, Jeff unboxes his brand new iPhone XS Max, then takes us on a visual tour (video embedded in main Loop post), highlighting lots of features along the way.

Lots of new shiny, well presented, worth watching.

The temptation of Apple News

Will Oremus, Slate, starts his article with this provocative subtitle:

The world’s most valuable company is wooing the media with a human touch and a huge audience. One thing it hasn’t delivered: money.

A few more callouts:

One platform in particular has exploded as a news source in the past year, and it promises an antidote to some of the poisonous dynamics that Facebook had set in motion. That platform is Apple News.

And:

Launched to rather tepid fanfare three years ago, Apple’s mobile news app has recently surged in popularity and influence, if publishers’ traffic figures are any indication. Sources at several news outlets say they’ve seen their audience on Apple News multiply in 2018 alone. Some now say it has become one of their top traffic sources, alongside Facebook and Google. At Slate, which disclosed its data for this story, page views on Apple News have roughly tripled since September 2017, and the app recently surpassed Facebook as a driver of readership.

Sounds great! But:

There is, of course, a catch. Whereas Facebook sent hordes of readers from its news feed to publishers’ websites, Apple tends to keep them inside its app. And so far, publishers have found that’s not a lucrative place to be. Although it’s been two years since Apple partnered with NBCUniversal to sell ads inside the app, several sources at media outlets told me that they’re seeing little to no ad revenue from Apple News.

In a nutshell, the complaint appears to be Apple’s relative scarcity of ads. Which I appreciate. But a publisher’s got to keep the lights on, got to pay those bills.

Apple News doesn’t support some of the common ad formats or systems that dominate ad sales on the web, and not all media companies find it worthwhile to develop and sell custom ads just for Apple News. (Those that do can keep all the revenue or they can let Apple sell them, in which case Apple takes a 30 percent cut.) As Matt Karolian, the Boston Globe’s director of new initiatives, told me, “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

Early days for Apple News. I suspect they will respond to the market, or they will see demand fall.

I’m not a fan of the “capture and keep” approach used by both Apple News and Google AMP. It might be the novelty of all links pointing to the search hub, as opposed to the original publisher. I like to support the folks who wrote the original article by pointing readers back to the source, which is why I actively try to find and post the original links in all Loop stories, as well as in Twitter posts.

Apple Watch’s new auto-911 calls after falls may tumble into legal trouble

Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica:

Late last week, Apple released more details about how (with certain opt-in settings) the Apple Watch Series 4 will contact emergency services if the watch detects that you’ve had a hard fall.

Before actually contacting first responders, the Apple Watch will try to give numerous urgent alerts: tapping the wearer on the wrist, sounding of a very loud alarm, and also displaying a visual alert.

There are several issues with Apple Watch Series 4 Fall Detection. In the short term, detection seems to be a bit buggy. Some people have complained of the alert firing off when the watch falls, without being on a wrist. Others have fallen hard and not had the Apple Watch detect the fall, even with Fall Detection enabled. These issues will, no doubt, be addressed over time.

A more complex, longer term issue:

If police are alerted by an Apple Watch of a possible injury, they do not need a warrant to enter a home under the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment. This is the notion that law enforcement officers can enter a private space if they reasonably believe that someone needs emergency assistance.

Lots of implications there. Read the whole article. Thoughtful piece.

Marzipan and Mojave

Benjamin Mayo:

Marzipan apps are ugly ducklings. As soon as you use them, you can just know these are not at one with the system. You detect that there’s a translation layer of some kind at work here, just like when you use Slack on the Mac you instinctively feel that it’s a web app in a thin wrapper. The underlying implementation is exposed to the user with a bevy of performance sluggishness, UI quirks and non-standard behaviours. That’s bad.

Lots of detail here to back up Benjamin’s opinion. It’s early days yet, so I’d expect this experience to get better over time.

I debated calling this post ‘Home, News, Stocks and Voice Memos for Mac’ because it’s not really a comment on the Marzipan project initiative. After all, I don’t expect the solution Apple ships next year to have the same laundry list of drawbacks that these Mojave apps do. It’s a critique of the apps that are shipping now to customers of macOS. These apps are preinstalled with the OS. News was even unceremoniously placed into the middle of my Dock upon upgrading. And they are not good, simple as that. I would have been mildly happier if Apple had offered these apps as optional App Store downloads affixed with a beta label.

And:

Functionally, they are a win. These apps make the Mac do things it couldn’t before. That shouldn’t excuse them from blame, though. These are mediocre, bordering on bad, experiences. It’s not a good poster child for the future of the Mac.

Interesting for Apple to officially ship something like this, rather than hiding it in a beta until it is ready for prime time.

The iPhone XS Apple built specifically for the China market

The linked video takes you through the logic of Apple building a custom iPhone just for the Chinese market. You’ll get a quick look at the double-SIMS and the process of putting them in a Chinese iPhone XS, and lots more.

Very interesting. Note that the first two minutes is about Apple and China, then things switch to another topic.

Robotic, self-solving Rubik’s cube

[VIDEO] This is astonishing to me. Scramble up the Rubik’s Cube, set it down (or hold it still), and the brain and motors inside will twist and turn until the puzzle is back to its perfectly solved self. The video is embedded in the main Loop post.

Follow the headline link for lots of images and detail on the construction (that looks to be C++ code driving the whole thing).

This felt like a glimpse into the future, where objects are self aware and know the way they are supposed to exist, using their motors and sensors, and self-awareness, to return back to normal when disturbed.

Enjoy. [H/T Mr. E]

iPhone XS Max OLED display simply crushes in DisplayMate analysis

DisplayMate really knows their stuff. They are the go-to site for a detailed take on any display technology. As they do with every new major smartphone release, DisplayMate ran their tests on the iPhone XS Max OLED display.

In a nutshell, the iPhone XS Max display just crushed it.

Here are a few comments from the analysis:

The Absolute Color Accuracy of the iPhone XS Max is Truly Impressive as shown in these Figures. It has an Absolute Color Accuracy of 0.8 JNCD (Just Noticeable Color Difference) for the sRGB / Red.709 Color Gamut that is used for most current consumer content, and 0.8 JNCD for the Wider DCI-P3 Color Gamut that is used for 4K UHD TVs and Digital Cinema, which are both Visually Indistinguishable From Perfect, and very likely considerably better than any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have.

The figures are in the Automatic Color Management section of the report. I do love the phrase “Visually Indistinguishable From Perfect”.

Mobile displays are often used under relatively bright ambient lighting, which washes out the image color saturation and contrast, reducing picture quality and making it harder to view or read the screen. To be usable in high ambient light a display needs a dual combination of high Screen Brightness and low Screen Reflectance – the iPhone XS Max has both. This is extremely important for screen readability, picture quality, and color accuracy in ambient light.

And:

The iPhone XS Max has a Record high calibrated 100% APL Full Screen Brightness for OLED Smartphones

And:

The measured iPhone XS Max Screen Reflectance is 4.7 percent, close to the lowest that we have ever measured for a Smartphone.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. This is one impressive display.

Amazon plants fake packages to catch dishonest drivers

Hayley Peterson, Business Insider:

Amazon uses fake packages to catch delivery drivers who are stealing, according to sources with knowledge of the practice.

The company plants the packages — internally referred to as “dummy” packages — in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty.

Interesting read. You’d think this sort of strategy would stop working once word got out. But, since word getting out was intentional (Amazon commented for the record), perhaps putting this out there was the core of Amazon’s theft reduction strategy.

iPhone XS Max dramatically outselling iPhone XS, Apple Watch Series 4 sales exceeding all expectations

Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider:

Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has weighed in on early sales of Apple’s new products, and is seeing massive demand for the iPhone XS Max over the iPhone XS, with Apple Watch Series 4 demand so high that supply constraints may extend unless Apple brings on more assemblers.

And:

In a note seen by AppleInsider TF Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo is seeing between three and four times the demand for the iPhone XS Max versus the iPhone XS.

And:

Worldwide, the 256GB model of the iPhone XS Max is reportedly most popular, with the 512GB one suffering from a “serious shortage” because of low NAND flash supply.

And:

As a result of channel checks, Kuo is expecting about 19.5 million Apple Watches shipped before the end of the year, up from 18 million.

Astonishing sales. Apple has this down to a science.