Apple starts pushing High Sierra on unsuspecting Mac users

Adam Engst, TidBITS:

If you’re running macOS 10.12 Sierra or earlier, and do not want to upgrade to 10.13 High Sierra right now, be careful because Apple has started pushing High Sierra to older Macs and making it all too easy to upgrade inadvertently. In short, if you get a macOS notification asking you to install High Sierra, click the Details button to launch the App Store app, and then quit it.

I am not a fan of the TidBITS headline here, but I do get the point. Though the update notification does call out an upgrade to macOS High Sierra, it does look like most other updates. And as many users do when they are confronted with a license agreement or privacy policy, it is very easy to click Install without reading the details.

This is good to know, worth passing along to folks in your community running older Macs.

What happens to Animoji when you cover the TrueDepth camera?

Frederick Riedel used stickers to cover the:

  • Infrared camera
  • Flood Illuminator
  • Dot Projector

on his iPhone X. But Animoji still worked without them. Portrait mode stopped working. Face ID stopped working too. So the stickers were doing their job.

Why do Animoji still work? Pop over to the main Loop post for the detailed explanation. Pretty interesting.

iOS 11.2 accelerated wireless charging speed vs wired

Matt Birchler compared the time it took to charge an iOS device using:

  • Stock wired charger
  • Apple 29W charger
  • Wireless charging (available on iPhone 8, 8 Plus, iPhone X)
  • Accelerated wireless charging (New with iOS 11.2)

Follow the link, check out the graph. To really get a sense of the difference, look how many minutes it takes each to get to a 40% charge (the second horizontal gray line).

The 29W charger took just under 30 minutes. Accelerated charging took about an hour and 40 minutes.

I don’t know how rigorous this analysis was, but wow, what a difference. We could be seeing the limitations of inductive charging, or we could see these numbers improve with each new release.

Important to note that Matt used a Samsung wireless charging pad. So it is certainly possible we’d see better numbers when Apple releases their branded pad.

But as is, what price convenience?

UPDATE: Had a lot of conversations about this post, about the value of the convenience brought by wireless charging. Add to that the fact that the latest iPhones have plenty of battery life, and the use case comes into focus. Instead of placing my phone on my desk while I type away, if I simply place it on the charging pad, I’ll get a nice little power top-off without the hassle of plugging in.

Conclusion? Wired is clearly a faster charge than wireless, but that’s just fine. Wireless does the job it was designed to do and brings great convenience to the process.

Rene Ritchie’s Vector podcast

Rene Ritchie is a smart cookie. Vector is a daily podcast (I don’t know how he keeps this up), full of interesting detail on some (usually) Apple-related topic.

Start with the latest one, Face ID FUD. Here’s the link.

GymKit launches today, automatically syncs workout data between Apple Watch and gym equipment

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

The idea is that the watch and the paired gym machine have better knowledge about different aspects of the workout. GymKit allows that data to be shared back and forth, as appropriate.

At the end of the session, the watch saves all the relevant data to its local database (no iPhone required) and the gym equipment is wiped of any personal data.

Walk up to a GymKit compatible machine, tap your Apple Watch (pairs via NFC, similar to Apple Pay), and the machine automatically loads the appropriate workout data from your watch. When your workout is finished, your results are saved back to your Apple Watch.

This is brilliant.

Watch these BMW gestures and think about bringing them to the Mac

[VIDEO] This morning, I dug around and found the video embedded in the main Loop post, which shows off the gestures available on the latest BMWs (they’ve been available for a few years, but the sensors/gestures have evolved each year, getting better and better).

Think about the idea of having a similar set of gestures available on the Mac. The idea of tech on your phone or Mac sensing your presence, attention, or movements, clearly add value to the user experience.

The idea of a touch screen Mac is different than a gesture-aware Mac. I think the gestures on the BMW would work well on a Mac. Not necessarily the same gestures, but similar gestures. Especially if the gestures could be subtle.

Imagine an incoming phone call, while you are typing away at your Mac. You lift your hand from the keyboard, make a quick swiping gesture, and the call is dismissed. Or you make a c’mon gesture, and the call is answered.

I see a lot of possibilities here.

You probably don’t need to worry about someone hacking your iPhone X’s Face ID with a mask

Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch:

Touted as the iPhone X’s new flagship form of device security, Face ID is a natural target for hackers. Just a week after the device’s release, Vietnamese research team Bkav claims to have cracked Apple’s facial recognition system using a replica face mask that combines printed 2D images with three-dimensional features. The group has published a video demonstrating its proof of concept, but enough questions remain that no one really knows how legitimate this purported hack is.

I believe the term should be spoofed, not hacked. The video in the post shows Bkav using a homemade mask trying to spoof a person’s face registered using Face ID. Hacking would be breaking in and stealing credentials, or installing a back door, that sort of thing.

That said, something doesn’t sit right looking at that video. When I first saw it, my instinctive reaction was that it was fake. But even if the mask was successful in spoofing the user’s face, I just don’t see this as an issue.

More from Taylor’s post:

If you’re concerned that someone might want into your devices badly enough that they’d execute such an involved plan to steal your facial biometrics, well, you’ve probably got a lot of other things to worry about as well.

And:

Prior to the Bkav video, Wired worked with Cloudflare to see if Face ID could be hacked through masks that appear far more sophisticated than the ones the Bkav hack depicts. Remarkably, in spite of their fairly elaborate efforts — including “details like eyeholes designed to allow real eye movement” and “thousands of eyebrow hairs inserted into the mask intended to look more like real hair” — Wired and Cloudflare didn’t succeed.

If Bkav has the goods, I suspect we’ll hear more from them, perhaps a follow-on post with a more clearly defined demonstration. Or, perhaps, we’ll hear from Apple about some patch they made to Face ID in response to Bkav’s work. As is, color me skeptical.

Why you should not rely on iCloud Photo Library as your only media backup

Glenn Fleishman, Macworld:

iCloud Photo Library, when it fits your needs, is a great way to avoid having to manage where your images and videos wind up. You capture video on your iPhone or drag an image into Photos in macOS, and it just syncs everywhere while making a central copy at iCloud.

And:

However, there’s one configuration I can’t advise, and Macworld reader Eric writes in with a question that prompts a discussion. He’s wondering if he could rely on iCloud to be his “main backup of images.” The short answer is no, but it’s not about distrust in Apple’s technical abilities. Rather, about the frailty of all material things, and the risk of putting all one’s digital eggs in one basket, no matter how firmly the basket-storing company is holding that basket.

Interesting read, some good insight on iCloud Photo Library.

Director Steven Soderbergh secretly shot new horror movie ‘Unsane’ entirely on Apple’s iPhone

Neil Hughes, Apple Insider:

Details on “Unsane” have slowly trickled out in recent months, including the fact that the film was shot in secret and entirely on Apple’s iPhone, according to Entertainment Weekly. The film stars Claire Foy, Juno Temple, and Jay Pharoah, with Pharoah describing the picture as “reality-horror type” with some similarities to Jordan Peele-created smash hit “Get Out.”

The movie was filmed this summer, meaning the best iPhone it could have been shot on was the iPhone 7 Plus.

I’m looking forward to seeing this movie in the theater, at the very least to get a sense of the look of an iPhone shot movie on the big screen. It will be interesting to compare the look of this film with future films shot on an iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X.

Also, I loved Get Out and am a big fan of Claire Foy, Jay Pharoah, Steven Soderbergh.

iPhone X, meet roller derby

[VIDEO] Serenity Caldwell is, secretly, a member of a top 10 women’s roller derby team. The iPhone X dropped the same day as the WFTDA’s annual international championships.

What better test for the iPhone X than to put it through its paces trying to capture some high speed flat track action?

Serenity’s writeup takes you through the specifics, but for my money, the real nugget of gold in her review is the pulse-pounding video embedded in the main Loop post. Those are some great slo-mo shots.

Be sure to bump the resolution up to 1440 in the YouTube window for best results.

Face ID on the Mac

Thoughts on the idea of Apple adding facial mapping and Face ID to your Mac. […]

Tip for training Face ID

Yoni Heisler, BGR:

One of the great things about Face ID is that the data associated with your initial Face ID photo is always being updated to account for even subtle changes in your appearance. That being the case, there’s an incredibly simple way for iPhone X users to train Face ID to work flawlessly across all situations. So if you’ve been noticing that Face ID works great 99% of the time but seems to slip up if you hold up your phone at an angle or from a new distance, we’ve got a solution for you.

And:

The next time you try to unlock your iPhone X with Face ID and it doesn’t take, don’t try to unlock it with Face ID a second time. Instead, enter in your passcode. Doing so effectively tells Face ID to incorporate facial data from whatever new angle or position you happen to be holding your phone in. That being the case, the next time you attempt to unlock your phone from the same position, your phone will unlock immediately.

This is a terrific tip.

Five ways Apple could improve iPhone X usability

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

I stand by my claim that iPhone X is the best damn product Apple has ever made but that doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t get better. That includes how new features like Face ID, gesture navigation, Control Center access, and Lock screen buttons are currently implemented.

A solid list of ideas, all of them filed as feature request radars, with the radar numbers if you’d like to dupe them yourself.

[VIDEO] Identical twins, Face ID, and that IR dot pattern

[VIDEO] Oliver Thomas has identical twins and an iPhone X. As you might expect, he made a video testing to see if one twin could unlock the iPhone X registered to the other twin.

The text went pretty much as you’d expect it to. But what I found really interesting was Oliver’s use of night mode in an old night-vision camcorder to capture the IR dot pattern put out by the iPhone X.

In the video, jump to about 30 seconds in and check out the spread of that pattern. It goes pretty wide, so much so that Oliver had to move one of the twins out of the spread to be sure he didn’t get a false positive.

The wide spread shows how far of a face detection reach the iPhone X has.

In addition, at that same place within the video, check out the pattern of the dots on the wall. They almost look like 5-pointed stars, rather than round dots. Is that just my imagination? Is there a shape to the dots beyond simple circles?

In the meantime, check the video for yourself. It’s embedded in the main Loop post.

iPhone X: The Android Central review

Daniel Bader, Android Central:

Apple calls iPhone X the future of the smartphone, but after using it for a week — and coming from months of Android use — I can comfortably say that it’s a really great phone. In fact, it is the best iPhone to date, and I’ve had a tremendous time with it, but it doesn’t drastically change my opinion of the iPhone as a product, nor of iOS as an ecosystem.

That’s not to say Google and its hardware partners can’t stand to learn a few things from the iPhone X.

Let’s cut to the chase.

As you make your way through this review, keep in mind that this is written by the Managing Editor of Android Central. I found it to be objective, but clearly told from the view of an Android user. Keep that in mind, but do read the review.

The Apple Watch can accurately detect hypertension and sleep apnea, a new study suggests

Sarah Buhr, TechCrunch:

A new study out from health startup Cardiogram and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) suggests wearables like the Apple Watch, Fitbit and others are able to accurately detect common but serious conditions like hypertension and sleep apnea.

And:

Sleep apnea affects an estimated 22 million adults in the U.S., with another 80 percent of cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. This is a serious condition where the person affected stops breathing in their sleep and can lead to death.

The current process for diagnosing sleep apnea typically requires an overnight stay in a sleep center, where they connect an array of sensors to detect and track your sleeping and breathing patterns. Often, a breathing device is prescribed and fitted, with another overnight to verify that it is working correctly. Every element of this process is expensive, and (at least in the US) is not always covered by health insurance.

Anything the Apple Watch can do to cut down on the inconvenience and expense is a boon.

Here’s a link to the study, in case you want to learn more.

Ohio State has a bit of fun with Apple

Before you click to start the video in this tweet, realize that the card turning crowd caught at the end of the video usually spells out O-H-I-O, while chanting the same.

Too funny! […]

Apple’s ‘geniuses’ are straining under the iPhone’s success, but revamped stores could ease the pressure

Kif Leswing, Business Insider:

According to numerous blue-shirted “geniuses” that Business Insider spoke to, a rising tide of store visitors and on-the-job performance expectations have pushed the system to the breaking point.

And:

Retail employees notice that the stores are packed. One says that his store can’t keep up. “We haven’t been able to keep up with traffic since I started 8 years ago,” a senior Genius at a small store in the Midwest that has yet to be redesigned told Business Insider. “I wouldn’t even walk in the store because of how crowded it gets. During Christmas [season] you can hardly move.”

Even consumers who purchased their phones through their wireless carriers now increasingly turn to the Apple store as their de-facto service center. In some cases, the arrangement is deliberate: T-Mobile earlier this year started bundling AppleCare, Apple’s warranty and service program, into its own device insurance program, funneling its own customers to Apple for service.

This is a natural result of Apple’s enormous success. The question is, what is Apple doing to help alleviate this strain?

In 2016, Apple introduced a new repair role, named Technical Expert, which can do iPhone repairs and replacements for customers, but can’t repair Macs. The new Technical Expert roles seem to be doing a better job accommodating people who walk in with broken iPhones without appointments.

And:

With the new store design, Apple is rethinking the concept of the Genius Bar itself. Although new stores still have the traditional scheduled appointments for customers, the system has shifted to what Apple calls the “Genius Grove,” in which roving techs can service customers in a large tree-lined part of the store.

I go to the Apple Store pretty regularly, and I am seeing a difference. The original service model reserved the majority of the floor for sales, pushing all technical/service issues to a relatively small space at the rear of the store.

But the modern Apple Store feels different, the flow of technical/service response feels more triaged. Go in, find any Apple-shirted person, and explain your issue. Frequently, the path to a solution starts with that person either responding directly, or connecting you to the right someone in the store to work through a problem, often without spending time in any sort of queue at all.

It’s a night and day difference, from a customer experience perspective.

The iPhone X PenTile screen, in a single image

The iPhone X OLED display is a diamond matrix PenTile arrangement, as opposed to the traditional RGB stripe arrangement. But what does that means in real life? Click through for some analysis and a great image that brings this home. […]

How Corning’s crash project for Steve Jobs helped define the iPhone

Tim Bajarin, Fast Company:

About six months before the iPhone hit store shelves in 2007, Steve Jobs called Corning’s CEO, Wendell Weeks, and asked him if he could create a glass cover for a new Apple product that would resist scratches and breakage.

And:

The original iPhone spec called for a plastic cover over the touchscreen display. The story goes that Jobs, after using a prototype iPhone for a few weeks, became very worried that the device’s display would get scratched when jumbled around in user’s pockets with keys and coins. So he gathered his engineers and demanded a new glass covering be used for the iPhone. Hence Jobs’s phone call to Weeks.

And:

While many other smartphone makers have crowed about using Gorilla Glass, Apple has rarely (if ever) publicly acknowledged Corning as the maker of the iPhone’s glass cover.

Corning is a critical part of the iPhone’s success and the iPhone a critical part of Corning’s growth as well. If you ever find yourself in the finger lakes region of New York, take some time to stop by the Corning Museum of Glass.

And spend a few minutes with Tim Bajarin’s article, as well as this fantastic New York Times article which details the iPhone’s move, under Steve Jobs’ urgent direction, from a plastic to a Gorilla Glass screen.

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.