November 15, 2017

MakeUseOf:

Twitter is full of bots and trolls. Facebook is full of your family, fake news, and photos of kids and pets. RSS is the only place you can go to read news from the sources you want peacefully.

Feedly is one of the best RSS services, out of the many that rose from the ashes of Google Reader. So with that in mind, we set out to find the best ways to use Feedly on the Mac for your RSS fix.

I’m still a big fan of RSS.

Universal Audio plug-ins vs analog hardware

This is exactly why I use Universal Audio in my recording and mixes. What they do is so exacting, it’s difficult to tell the plug-in from the actual hardware unit. Watch this video.

I can tell you that I’m really excited about the latest release from Universal Audio. They have always been the top plug-in maker for me, but this one goes above and beyond. Here’s what’s included:

  • Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor
  • Dytronics Tri-Stereo Chorus
  • Gallien-Krueger® 800RB Bass Amp
  • Ocean Way Microphone Collection
  • Marshall Plexi Classic (FREE for Apollo owners)

Excuse me while I go download and play for the rest of the day.

The Kitchn:

Kinder Eggs, also known as Kinder Surprise, are egg-shaped chocolates with a small toy prize inside, and they’re wildly famous and popular treats in Europe and much of the rest of the world. Unfortunately, they’re banned in the U.S. because it’s illegal to sell candy with non-edible objects inside it, on the grounds that the object is a choking hazard.

But starting this month, Kinder Eggs will finally be available legally in the U.S. They’re not exactly the same toy-containing Kinder Surprise Egg that’s been banned, however. It’s a newer variety called Kinder Joy.

This is one of those things we Canadians have always held up as a reason why Canada is better than the US. We’ll have to find something else now.

Sometimes I just enjoy knowing that things like this can be done. I love that coders and designers keep pushing things, sometimes in a simple way.

I love some of the things Tina Roth Eisenberg finds on the Web, but I couldn’t afford to buy this one.

This is specifically for Google Europe, but it’s a very interesting read on how they are trying to follow the law and strike the right balance.

Apple Inc has agreed to give limited help to the Indian government to develop an anti-spam mobile application for its iOS platform, after refusing to do so based on privacy concerns, according to sources and documents seen by Reuters.

Apple didn’t want the government to have its customer’s call and text logs. Apparently the app they are helping to develop will have limited capabilities.

Chris Davies did a great review of Google’s new wireless headphones, Pixel Buds. He went through all of the main features and compared them to Apple’s AirPods, a product I know much more about.

Apple put out its yearly holiday gift guide to help you choose the perfect present for your family and friends.

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

This morning, I dug around and found the video embedded below, 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.

[H/T, @bolykidotorg]

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.

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.

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.

November 14, 2017

Pandora, the largest streaming music provider in the U.S., and Sonos, the wireless home sound system, today launched new ways for listeners to control their music on Sonos within Pandora’s award-winning mobile app. Listeners can now control Sonos directly through the Pandora mobile app and command Pandora stations with voice commands via Alexa. The new experience also includes support for Premium, Pandora’s on-demand service launched earlier this year.

Just tried this and it worked great. Why can’t Apple do this? HomePod, I guess. I am looking forward to getting one of those.

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 below. 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

Chance Miller, in this 9to5Mac op-ed piece:

What I love most about Face ID is that it’s passive. It works without me needing to do anything, such as place my finger on a fingerprint reader. Need to view my Safari Keychain? Face ID authenticates me. Opening a secure app such as a banking app? Face ID to the rescue. On the Mac, Face ID would be able to do all of this in an even more seamless fashion.

For instance, unlocking your Mac would become an automatic process. By the time you sat down and opened your MacBook, Face ID could recognize and authenticate you – there’d be no waiting involved. Similar to how Auto Unlock works when your Mac is paired to your Apple Watch, logging in would be a completely passive and secure process.

I have mixed feelings about this. I use my Apple Watch to unlock my Mac and, once it’s unlocked, it tends to stay unlocked for long stretches. I unlock my Mac from 2-10 times a day, at most. My phone on the other hand, can require an unlock as many as 100 times a day.

My point is that I don’t think the cost of adding Face ID to a Mac, purely for unlock, would be worth the expense to me, given that I have an Apple Watch.

But:

In terms of broader security, Face ID would bring major improvements to the Mac. Currently, if you have passwords and log-in information stored in Safari, macOS doesn’t prompt you for any authentication when you go to sign-in to a website. Apple assumes that the initial log-in to macOS was enough authentication, and while this is true in most cases, it still represents a potential security hole if someone were to get ahold of your Mac after you’d already logged in.

The key would be if Apple tightly integrated Face ID throughout the operating system, as they did with Touch ID and Face ID throughout iOS. And, of course, I would expect Apple to do that.

But I think Face ID on the Mac would go way beyond security. For starters, the facial mapping would allow you to use Animoji throughout macOS. More importantly, whatever technology follows Animoji in taking advantage of facial mapping will also be possible on your Mac.

As augmented reality evolves, facial mapping and machine learning will evolve as well and it will be nice having the additional hardware that makes that facial mapping possible on both platforms.

As an example, take a look at this video, which shows off a deep neural network that allows you to change your hair color in real time. Imagine an app that does that for everything about you, swapping out glasses, facial hair, masks, colors, earrings, tattoos, what have you, all tightly tracked to your face.

Face ID on the Mac would allow macOS to keep up with iOS in this space. The question is, would Apple prefer this sort of technology to be available throughout the ecosystem, or would they prefer face tracking to be something that distinguishes iOS, a gentle nudge to move all users to iOS devices.

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.

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

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? If you know any of the detail, please do ping me.

In the meantime, check the video for yourself.

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.

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.

November 13, 2017

The Daily Mail:

A California filmmaker has revealed how his Apple Watch saved him after a kiteboarding mishap left him stranded a mile off the California coast in shark infested waters.

Stranded off Ventura, where a great white shark nursery was recently discovered, he used his watch to call coastguards – and was even able to direct their rescue boat towards him.

Apple Watch saves the day.

Uncrate:

Emirates unveiled its new first class suites for its Boeing 777 and the amenities surpass most luxury hotels. Inspired by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, each zero-gravity seat is enclosed in its own cabin with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors for complete privacy. Everything from the 32-inch TV screen, lights, and temperature are remote controlled. For those not lucky enough to snag a window seat, each interior room is equipped with its own virtual windows that project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time camera technology.

I’ve flown First Class before but I can’t imagine ever being able to afford First Class at this level. That’s a real shame because I’m headed to Australia in a few weeks and the flight is literally 24 hours in total. I’d love this “suite”.

Our passports are packed and we’re crossing the border. Before you know it, Lyft will be coming to you live in Toronto. We’ve been looking forward to taking our brand of ridesharing international for some time, and we’re super pumped to share this with our close friends up north.

Lyft is a great service and the one I use all the time. This is a good first step to expand Lyft’s reach.

YouTube has confirmed it is working to resolve a bug in its mobile app that causes significant battery drain on Apple devices, even when the app is running in the background.

Definitely something to keep on an eye on until it gets fixed.

Josh Hawley, a Republican seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill in next year’s elections, announced at a press conference that he issued an investigative subpoena to Google. He expressed concern over the accuracy of the company’s privacy policy, allegations it misappropriated content from rivals and claims it demoted competitors’ websites in search results.

The first thing I wondered is if Reuters put the first line in because they think this is a political move. Regardless, Google will have to answer the charges.

Willamette Week:

On November 12, 1970, the Oregon Department of Transportation blew up a dead whale that had washed up on a Florence beach. In what was called a “controlled explosion,” they used a half-ton of dynamite. It didn’t go well.

Chunks of dead whale blubber ended up all over both bystanders and the beach, flying out as far as a nearby parking lot where the flying flesh severely damaged at least one car. The decision to publicly dynamite an enormous mammal has become one of Oregon’s all-time most bizarre moments.

This is one of those videos that showed me the power of the internet. I still remember seeing this decades ago in a tiny QuickTime window and marveling at the fact that I could watch it on this “internet thing”.

I also marveled at the fact people could be so stupid as to think they could blow up a whale carcass.

Thanks to my friend and lifelong Oregon resident Ian Schray for the link.

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.

The camera catches the card turners just as they reveal the letter I.

I am a fan!

Go to the site, turn on your volume, and just play.

To get started, slide the sliders, and click on the various presets.

This is perfect background music for me.