iPhone

If your iPhone stopped charging at 80%

This morning, this post, with the title TIL Your iPhone may stop charging at 80% when it gets too warm, made it to the front page of Reddit’s Apple subreddit.

The post references the headline linked Apple support post, specifically this:

If your device stopped charging at 80 percent

Your iPhone might get slightly warmer while it charges. To extend the lifespan of your battery, if the battery gets too warm, software might limit charging above 80 percent. Your iPhone will charge again when the temperature drops. Try moving your iPhone and charger to a cooler location.

Summer is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, temperatures are rising. Thought it worth passing this tidbit along.

Three keyboard changes Apple should make—to iOS

Dan Moren, Macworld:

Apple popularized the onscreen keyboard with the launch of the first iPhone, deciding to eschew the hardware keyboards that were de rigueur on smartphones at the time.

And:

That was great in 2007. But 12 years later, we’ve all largely adapted to touchscreen keyboards, and some of those smart technologies are starting to look and feel, well, not so smart. It’s time for an A-to-Z overhaul of text entry on iOS.

Dan digs into several virtual keyboard areas where there’s room for improvement. Take the time to read his article, not a long read.

I do think there’s plenty of room for improvements here. In my mind, one core problem is the blind dependence on machine learning to drive predictive text suggestions.

Here’s an example:

I brought up Twitter, and started composing a new tweet. I typed the letters “proc”, which led the keyboard to make the center prediction of the word “process”. Perfect, exactly what I was going for.

But then I typed “e”, the next letter in process. And that center suggestion was changed to another word. This happens a lot.

But the point is, when I am typing, and I see the word I want in a specific box, if I type one more letter in that word and then reach to tap the word, it should not move. I frequently find myself typing, reaching to tap the word I’m typing, and by the time my finger gets to the box, the word has changed to another word.

If my eye is on the target, and I continue to type the target word as already identified, the target word should stay the same. Until I type a letter that does not match the currently identified target word.

My sense of this is, machine learning has priority over straight logic.

I’d love to speak with someone on the keyboard team about this, and other related issues. I wonder if the team is not seeing these sorts of issues themselves.

The continuing war to fingerprint iPhones

SensorID:

When you visit a website, your web browser provides a range of information to the website, including the name and version of your browser, screen size, fonts installed, and so on. Ostensibly, this information allows the website to provide a great user experience. Unfortunately this same information can also be used to track you.

Cross domain tracking is a well known problem, and Apple is on top of it. But read on.

We have developed a new type of fingerprinting attack, the calibration fingerprinting attack. Our attack uses data gathered from the accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors found in smartphones to construct a globally unique fingerprint.

Dear advertisers, no one wants this to happen. You can tell because the tunnels you dig keep getting blocked. No one ever write’s a blog post begging for newer ways to cross domain track.

Following our disclosure, Apple has patched this vulnerability in iOS 12.2.

Once again, Apple has our backs.

Google suspends Huawei’s non-open source Android license

Angela Moon, Reuters:

Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

And:

Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said.

It’s too early to truly know the impact of this suspension, but a few things click right away:

  • Huawei has confirmed that they’ve built their own operating system as a backstop. I can’t imagine it’s as good as Android or iOS, but if this situation continues, China’s leading smartphone seller will no longer run a US smartphone OS.

  • In quarter 1, 2019, Huawei shipped 29.9 million smartphones in China, compared to Apple’s 6.5 million. If Google’s suspension holds, I can only imagine those numbers moving even further apart. Certainly, I can’t see this situation helping Apple in China.

  • This could all end quickly, as such trade restrictions can do, if this is a White House negotiating tactic and not a permanent restriction.

Why did this happen?

From the South China Morning Post:

Huawei Technologies and over 70 affiliates were added to the US Commerce Department’s Entity List last week on national security grounds, restricting the company from buying parts and components from US companies without government approval.

More on this as it unfolds.

Apple, the iPhone 6s, and Made in India

A solid marketing campaign by the Indian government and a nice strategic move by Apple to ease their way into that market.

https://twitter.com/varunkrish/status/1128619867400167426

The iPhone 6s runs iOS 12, presumably will run iOS 13 as well.

From this Apple Insider post:

Using manufacturing partner Wistron, Apple has produced the iPhone 6S in India since 2018 and the iPhone SE since 2017, and has expanded to include the iPhone 7 for local sale. Current plans include tapping Foxconn for a trial run of production for the iPhone X, which may be a precursor to manufacturing the 2019 iPhones in the market.

Presumably, many of the parts for these iPhones are all sourced elsewhere, and the assembly and testing happen in India. Wondering what parts (such as the midframes and cases), if any, are actually manufactured in India.

Comparing Apple’s iPhone XR versus Google’s Pixel 3a XL

Before you check out Mark Linsangan’s Apple Insider post/video, take a quick look at this tweet, which shows the focus of Google’s iPhone bashing Phone X (not a typo, they compare their new phone to the mythical Phone X) campaign.

Google is, rightfully so, focusing on the availability of Night Sight on the Pixel 3a and the lack of a night mode on modern iPhones. Fair dinkum.

But if you really want to compare the Pixel 3a to an iPhone, do what Mark Linsangan does and run the gamut. Compare all the things. Like blazingly fast speed, fit and finish, and other features missing from the 3a entirely.

I think the Pixel 3a is a good enough smartphone. But compare it side-by-side with the low end iPhone if you want to truly play fair.

Fun 3D images for your iPhone

Check out these 3D simulating images:

https://twitter.com/jaromvogel/status/1125548156970659840

To see these on your own devices, you’ll need to:

  • Go to Settings > Safari
  • Turn on the Motion & Orientation Access switch. Some people have negative reactions to motion interfaces, so keep that in mind.

There are more of these on Jarom’s web site. Fun.

Google pitching the $399 Pixel 3A as the privacy respecting smartphone for the masses

I have to say, when I first heard the Google Pixel 3A announcement, I was intrigued. Google has shipped a lot in that $399 package. Was this the phone that was going to temp people to cross the line from Apple’s walled garden into Google’s data collecting machine?

From this New York Times review:

The Pixel 3A lacks some frills you may find in premium devices, like wireless charging and water resistance. But based on my tests, it is a great value. It’s fast and capable with a very good camera and a nice-looking screen — and, yes, especially for this price.

And:

Among the clever camera features is a software mode called Night Sight, which makes photos taken in low light look as if they had been shot in normal conditions, without a flash. Google accomplishes this with some A.I. sorcery that involves taking a burst of photos with short exposures and reassembling them into an image.

I was delighted to see that Night Sight worked well with the Pixel 3A.

And:

The Pixel 3A can also shoot images with portrait mode, also known as the bokeh effect, which puts the picture’s main subject in sharp focus while gently blurring the background. Portrait mode was effective at producing artsy-looking pictures of red flowers in a garden and of my dogs in a field.

And:

Anecdotally, I’ve had better results with portrait mode on the pricier Pixel 3 and iPhones.

Otherwise, normal shots in good lighting consistently looked crisp and clear, with nice shadow detail.

And:

Other features missing from the Pixel 3A include support for wireless charging, a wide-angle lens on its front-facing camera and water resistance. Most of these omissions are negligible.

The way I read this is, the Pixel 3A is a good enough camera. A bit slower than it’s twice-the-price sibling, but good enough for most people.

And the Pixel 3A will be getting far bigger distribution. From Reuters:

The phone will sell in the same 13 countries as the Pixel 3.

And while Pixel devices currently work on T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular networks, those U.S. wireless carriers will also begin to sell the phones starting Wednesday, along with Verizon.

And:

Google had discussions with AT&T, another major U.S. carrier, but could not overcome some differences, according to people familiar with the matter. But Google and AT&T continue to discuss the possibility of stocking smartphones in the future, one of the people said.

And from this Verge review:

On the Pixel 3, you get free unlimited backups of the original resolution photos you’ve taken with the phone. The Pixel 3A is limited to free “high quality” backups, and it makes you pay for more storage if you upload too many original quality photos, just like any other phone. I suppose that’s one way to help get to that $399 price, but I think it’s a cheap move.

And this brings us to privacy. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Sundar Pichai pitched Google as the privacy loving company, here to make sure privacy is available to all, not just those who can afford high priced phones from their competitors.

I posted the question on Twitter, asking if people bought Sundar’s pitch. And the universal response was no. Even from Android folks. Google’s business model is based on collecting data to fuel their ad business. Hard to reframe that as “serving the people”.

I see the Pixel 3A as a great little phone. But I see it as the low priced razor. For the razor, the money is in razor blade sales. With the low priced Pixel 3A, the money is in ad sales.

An interesting strategy, Google.

83% of US teens own an iPhone, 86% expect next phone to be an iPhone

Piper Jaffray (via MacRumors):

Apple’s share of smartphone ownership was up slightly in the Piper Jaffray Taking StockWith Teens survey. Of ~8,000 respondents, 83% have an iPhone, the highest percentagewe have seen in our survey. The iPhone may have room to move higher, however, with 86% of teens anticipating their next phone to be an iPhone, tied for the highest ever in our survey.

Remarkably, according to Statista, overall US smartphone usage (not just teens), shows Android 54.2% vs iOS 44.8%.

So are teens the canary in the coal mine here, showing a future iOS adoption wave as teens grow up?

Certainly, the worldwide picture is very different. It’d be interesting to see a similar teen survey broken down by worldwide regions.

Apple posts two beautiful surfing videos, shot on iPhone XS

[VIDEO] There’s something special about being able to shoot video of the water, from in the water itself. Add in the physics and spiritual nature of surfing, and these two videos really are magical. Both are embedded in the main Loop post.

The second is a “behind the scenes” video, but it stands on its own.

Apple’s push to distinguish twins with Face ID

Patently Apple:

Apple notes in a patent application published today by the U.S. Patent Office that when it comes to authentication using facial recognition, there are potential cases where a user attempting to be authenticated (authorized) by a device cannot be distinguished from another user with closely related facial features.

Twins fool Face ID. Been a thing since the beginning.

Apple’s invention states that “Subepidermal imaging of a face of a user attempting to unlock a device may be used to enhance a facial recognition authentication process”

Subepidermal means below the skin. Interesting.

Subepidermal images of the user may be used to assess subepidermal features such as blood vessels (e.g., veins) when the device is attempting to authenticate the user. The subepidermal features may be compared to templates of subepidermal features for an authorized (e.g., enrolled) user of the device.

Sounds like Apple is offering an extra layer of facial verification for folks with twins or other doppelgängers.

And this last bit, which I found most fascinating:

For example, illuminator 105A and/or illuminator 105B may include an array of light sources such as, but not limited to, VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers). A first set of light sources in the array may provide illumination at a wavelength for unlock attempt images while a second set of light sources may provide illumination at a wavelength for subepidermal images. The different sets of light sources may be turned on/off separately to allow a specific illumination (e.g., a specific wavelength of illumination) to be provided.

You had me at [Holds up fingers, makes air-quotes] lasers. Cool beans.

How I made my own iPhone

[VIDEO] This video is about two years old, but fascinating nonetheless. It’s embedded in the main Loop post.

Scotty Allen has a wonderful YouTube channel called Strange Parts that explores the back alley parts markets in places like Shenzhen, China, scrounging together the pieces to create, in this case, a working iPhone 6s.

This is not about creating a phone of your own. Rather, it’s a look at a remarkable parts market. Jump to about 4:03 and check out all those iPhone backs.

I’d wager that the parts market is even more varied and vibrant today. Kind of makes me want to hackintosh my own iPhone. Or, at least, replace the back with something unique and custom.

The worst time to trade in your iPhone and other depreciation info

Two things I drew from this post (which came via this Cult of Mac post):

  • The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a pretty horrible investment, dropping about 60% in nine months, as compared to the iPhone X, which dropped about 30% in the same span.

  • The worst time to trade in your iPhone is in the 3 months following the September iPhone event. This from the headline linked article:

A massive 68.86% of the iPhone X and 8’s total yearly depreciation was seen in Q4 following the Sept 2018 Apple Keynote (31.14% of their value between Q1-Q3). The months after the keynote is a trade-in black hole consumers should avoid.

iPhone values trend upwards every January. Lots more info in the article. Interesting.

Dynamic iPhone phone call interface

Think about handling a phone call on your iPhone. Imagine the process of changing audio sources (switch from your car or AirPods to the speaker or handset, for example). Imagine switching to some other app to look something up while you are on the call, with that call status bar taking up the top of the screen.

Now take a look at this tweet, watch the embedded video:

https://twitter.com/limneos/status/1102672002748502017

I love this concept. I believe it is a jailbreak app, not something a third party could ship on mainstream iOS. But there’s a tremendous amount of flexibility being shown here.

The future of foldables is glass, not plastic

Follow the headline link and scroll down about halfway to that animated GIF showing a piece of glass, folded over and being repeatedly squished and released. To me, that is the future of foldables.

That is super-thin glass, 75µm thin. That’s ballpark the thickness of a human hair. And that curve gets down to a 5mm radius.

Fold it over and over again, and there’s no crease. Plastics crease when folded, glass like this doesn’t.

My instinct is that Apple will hold out for glass like this if and when they ever release any sort of foldable iPhone. Details are all in the article.

Apple says iPhones with third-party batteries now eligible for repairs

MacRumors:

iPhones with aftermarket batteries installed by third-party repair shops are now eligible for service at Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers, according to an internal Apple document obtained by MacRumors from three reliable sources.

And:

The updated guidelines went into effect Thursday and should apply worldwide. Apple will still decline service for iPhones with third-party logic boards, enclosures, microphones, Lightning connectors, headphone jacks, volume and sleep/wake buttons, TrueDepth sensor arrays, and certain other components.

Good news and a small step towards right to repair.

Upgrading From an iPhone SE to an XR

Michael Tsai writes up his experience moving from small form factor to the larger iPhone XR. Moving from Touch ID to Face ID.

Lots of detail, terrific read. One thing that did not come up is the move from a headphone jack to none. I suspect Michael already made the move to AirPods (or the like) and it just wasn’t an issue.

UPDATE: From Michael, via Twitter, on my question about the headphone jack:

The headphone jack is not an issue for me. I use AirPods and recently found a much better Bluetooth car adapter (will hopefully write about it soon).

Apple files new folding iPhone patent to address the “hinge wrinkle” problem

Apple is clearly working on solving one of the knottiest of problems with foldable phones, that of hinge wrinkle. When you have a screen that crosses the fold of the phone, the screen can show wear, like you might see on the spine of a well worn paperback book, or if you folded and unfolded a piece of paper.

From Patently Apple:

A new patent application from Apple published by the U.S. Patent Office shows that Apple is working on a method to keep the fold area warm as a cold display could cause problems when folding.

Specifically, Apple notes that a folding device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis. A display may span the bend axis. To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage when the display is cold, a portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be selectively heated.

Interesting solution. I do think the hinge wrinkle problem is a must solve for Apple. If I unfold my phone, a wrinkle, however slight, in the middle of the display, will kill the illusion of a single unbroken screen.

Apple and the NHL partner to turn candid player iPhone pics into giant ads

Ad Week:

The Shot on iPhone campaign has long been known for highlighting the surprisingly artistic shots that can be captured by just about any caliber of photographer. Now the outdoor-focused effort is heading onto the ice and behind the scenes of the NHL to give fans a closer look at the game and its star players.

In new ads launching today on arenas across the U.S. and Canada, Apple features photos taken on the iPhone XS by some of today’s top hockey pros and featuring candid moments with their teammates.

These are some great photos. No way a fan photo can match a photo taken on the ice or in the locker room by a player.

This is a brilliant partnership. I hope it spreads to other sports.

Cellebrite iPhone hacking tool is selling on eBay for $100 — And it’s leaking data

Forbes:

The U.S. federal government, from the FBI to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been handing millions to Cellebrite to break into Apple and Google smartphones. Mr. Balaj (Forbes agreed not to publish his first name at his request) and others on eBay are now acquiring and trading Cellebrite systems for between $100 and $1,000 a unit. Comparable, brand-new Cellebrite tools start at $6,000.

More importantly:

Rather than return the UFEDs to Cellebrite so they can be properly decommissioned, it appears police or other individuals who’ve acquired the machines are flogging them and failing to properly wipe them. Cybersecurity researchers are now warning that valuable case data and powerful police hacking tools could have leaked as a result.

This was one of the scenarios that emerged, back in late 2015, during the Congressional hearings that followed the San Bernardino shooting, asking Apple to build a golden key to allow law enforcement to unlock any iPhone on-demand. The concern then was that the golden key might get into the wrong hands, risking the data and privacy of the larger iPhone community.

Why Goldman Sachs sees Samsung folding phone as challenge to Apple

Lisa Eadicicco, Business Insider:

In a note published on February 20, the firm called Samsung’s newly introduced $1,980 Galaxy Fold “the main potential challenge” for Apple in the ultra-high-end smartphone market. “In terms of competition for Apple we see the Fold as the main potential challenge in the ultra high-end with a compelling form factor that only Samsung’s foldable OLED technology can deliver in our opinion,” the note said.

And:

“We see this as challenging for Apple who could find themselves with no access to the critical flexible OLED technology for which we believe Samsung has at least a two year lead over other display competitors.”

But:

Although Samsung demonstrated the device on stage, it did not allow media attendees to try the Fold after the event, which Goldman also flagged as a cause for concern.

The issue here: Samsung controls the supply of foldable OLED displays. A two year lead is formidable.

Nick Heer, from this post:

During the unveiling, Samsung emphasized the Fold’s versatility in being able to transform from an ordinary smartphone into a tablet just by opening it up. But this device — and others like it — are bad phones, and worse tablets. Every shot of the closed phone looks like it’s begging to be unfolded; its display looks narrow, uncomfortable, and cramped. It seems far better in its tablet-like configuration, but it is at best a diet version of a tablet.

Though Samsung does have a significant and protected lead, the product niche is nowhere near established. If Apple sees foldables in their future, they’re no doubt working on building the technology with another vendor, and/or working on the mechanics of building a foldable OLED display themselves.

How hackers and scammers break into iCloud-locked iPhones

Motherboard:

In 2013, Apple introduced a security feature designed to make iPhones less valuable targets to would-be thieves. An iPhone can only be associated to one iCloud account, meaning that, in order to sell it to someone else (or in order for a stolen phone to be used by someone new) that account needs to be removed from the phone altogether. A stolen iPhone which is still attached to the original owner’s iCloud account is worthless for personal use or reselling purposes (unless you strip it for parts).

And:

The iCloud security feature has likely cut down on the number of iPhones that have been stolen, but enterprising criminals have found ways to remove iCloud in order to resell devices. To do this, they phish the phone’s original owners, or scam employees at Apple Stores, which have the ability to override iCloud locks. Thieves, coders, and hackers participate in an underground industry designed to remove a user’s iCloud account from a phone so that they can then be resold.

This is a fascinating deep dive into the sophisticated black market that evolved for the sole purpose of defeating iCloud security locks.

The rise of the iPhone auteur

The article is about Steven Soderbergh and his continued quest to create mainstream movies shot completely on an iPhone.

Great read, though I think a bit of backstory is missing. Soderbergh was the director of the movie Moneyball and was fired. From the Moneyball Wikipedia page:

On June 19, 2009, days before filming was set to begin, Sony put the picture on hold. Soderbergh’s plan for the film called for elements considered non-traditional for a sports movie, such as interviews with real-life players. Soderbergh was dismissed and ultimately replaced by Bennett Miller. Aaron Sorkin wrote a third version of the screenplay.

That firing started a rift between Soderbergh and the studios, traditional moviemaking. The iPhone brought him back to moviemaking, with the “shot on iPhone” independent release Unsane, shot entirely on an iPhone 7.

Soderbergh’s latest effort, High Flying Bird, was shot entirely on an iPhone 8, and was done for Netflix. I find Soderbergh’s reemergence, in part thanks to the capabilities of the iPhone, fascinating.

Shot on iPhone XR, tweeted by Tim Cook

[VIDEO] Came across this tweet from Tim Cook:

https://twitter.com/tim_cook/status/1093210790369341440

I spent a nice stretch in New York last week, and this video (part of a series) really clicked for me, captured the essence of the city. It also gives you a sense of what you can do with video using the iPhone XR.

The full video is embedded in the main Loop post. Nice work.

Bloomberg: Apple Is planning 3-D cameras for new iPhones in AR push

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. plans to launch iPhones with a more-powerful 3-D camera as soon as next year, stepping up the company’s push into augmented reality, according to people familiar with the plans.

The rear-facing, longer-range 3-D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world. It will work up to about 15 feet from the device, the people said. That’s in contrast with the current iPhone 3-D camera system, which points toward users and operates at distances of 25 to 50 centimeters to power Apple’s Face ID facial-recognition feature.

I tend to avoid rumors but, right or wrong, this article is full of fascinating detail. If and when AR gains enough traction to be part of our day to day lives, I think Apple will be perfectly placed to sell an entirely new generation of iPhones.

NOTE: Do not confuse AR with VR. AR (augmented reality) layers simulated information on top of what you see through your iPhone’s camera. VR (virtual reality) is a virtual world, fed to you through special interface devices, like gloves and helmets.

I see AR as eminently useful, letting you measure rooms and place virtual furniture, or helping map your trip through the grocery store, finding items and comparing prices. The use cases are here, the hardware and software is still in the works.

Apple shifts gears, will pay license fee to top 10 winners of their shot on iPhone contest

No doubt due to the public outcry, and to avoid the appearance of using people’s work for “exposure”, Apple added this paragraph to the very end of their recent press release:

Apple believes strongly that artists should be compensated for their work. Photographers who shoot the final 10 winning photos will receive a licensing fee for use of such photos on billboards and other Apple marketing channels.

Good solution.