eXtensions - Sunday 10 September 2017
Cassandra - Weekend Review: Morning, Noon and Night - Face Recognition and Other Leaked iPhone Features
By Graham K. Rogers
Not Tim Cook of course. He has been complaining about leaks for months and the speculation that goes with them, especially those that are based on thin supply-chain reports. The culprit could be someone currently on the development team at Apple, I suspected, although if it is discovered who, then they will be "currently" no more one suspects.
Later on Sunday morning, I read an opinion from John Gruber (Daring Fireball) who may have inside information. It appears that the leaker certainly did as the GM was online, but could only be accessed using an obscure URL known to a few. Gruber's closing comments are sharp: "I'm nearly certain this wasn't a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee. [my italics] Whoever did this is the least popular person in Cupertino. More surprises were spoiled by this leak than any leak in Apple history." Covering this comment, AppleInsider has some more of the background to the idea. Mind you, by Tuesday evening (Wednesday morning here), none of this will matter to consumers.
In another Apple must fail article, on CNBC, Rebecca Ungarino, using what is loosely called market intelligence and (again) a negative outlook by the Wall Street Journal and Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management, plus evergreen Gene Steinberg - who now pops up as regularly as Rob Enderle used to (the man Gruber described as "Putting the 'Anal' in 'Analyst'), or Trip Chowdhury (How wrong-headed can one Apple analyst be? Philip Elmer-DeWitt) - we hear that the markets will fall (not just Apple, all of them) if the Tuesday announcements fail to reach expectations. I ask the question, Whose expectations?
Heavens, Enderle is on Twitter. I must follow. . . .
There was enough debate when Apple started to use fingerprints for ID purposes and unlocking the iPhone, even when most understood that - despite much misinformation from some online commentators - the fingerprint itself was not stored on the device (it was a mathematical representation) and that the data was not sent off the device, so could not be used by the authorities. None of that ever stops the negatives who always approach a question presuming Apple is wrong, yet ignore problems that other companies build in to their devices or systems.
FaceID is a little different, and a lot harder. Samsung have tried recently and there was a thread online showing one user unlocking a device with just a photo. Now I am all for knocking Samsung - I tried one of their cheaper smartphones a while back and gave up, not because of the phone itself, although it was less responsive than the iPhone I was using then, but because of the horrors of Android (v4.4) - but that could have been in demo mode and that would unlock with anything. If that is the case, it is a pretty stupid demo, but the real version may not be so easy to crack. Time enough to criticise if it is weak.
The Apple version appears to take the fingerprint recognition input care and enhance that to a 3D situation. When setting up TouchID, not only do we press the center of the print to the screen, but (as with police ink-based systems) the edges are as important and we are asked to touch and re-touch the sides several times. The face ID system will need all that and more, if a fully secure three-dimensional image of a user's face is to be used. Early in the week, I found a good description of how this might work, including a comparison of the Samsung 2D system (Mike Rundle, Medium).
Imagine for example, taking a selfie. We rarely take these full-on square to the face. The shots are usually angled (more, or less) both vertically and horizontally, so if facial ID is to be used, this has to be taken into account and we rarely have the same expression each time. Input will also differ depending on lighting, and on the time of day (morning, noon and night). Chance Miller (9to5 Mac) has a description, with screenshots. This seems to be from that Gold Master.
There is also an animation on Twitter from Mike Rundle apparently of the animation from the Face ID setup. You know, I have seen that face before. . .
Thank you, Susan. . .
We can also expect the cameras and photo software to be improved considerably, although I am unsure of the rumour that has the twin-camera system placement changed to the vertical, unlike the horizontal positioning of the current iPhone 7 Plus.
Photography with recent iPhones has improved considerably and advances are always welcome. There is still some room for improvement in low light conditions, but any camera needs help when the sun goes down. My own efforts with a DSLR when I can adjust the ISO to high figures are not that brilliant. I don't like using flash, so tend to take fewer photographs after lights-out.
As I had paid several times since then with a credit card, after being told that the minimum was 1,000 baht, I checked when I went home and found that the last time I did this was 3 July 2017, so I guess the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. I sent a query to BTS asking for clarification, but do note that Adrian Lim (Straits Times) reports that public transport in Singapore lost S$5.2 million last year to cheats: and I want to pay.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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