eXtensions - Wednesday 6 September 2017
eXtensions - The Wednesday File (21): OS Updates, Anything but the iPhone, and A Twist in the Tale
By Graham K. Rogers
OS UpdatesI wrote this weekend about the imminent announcement of the new iPhone at the new Steve Jobs Theater on 12 September. According to rumors there may be other hardware releases at the same event, with favourites being Apple Watch 4 and AppleTV. I do, however, have some related comments on the release later (see below).
Along with the updates to hardware, it was reported by several sources in the last week that extra beta releases of macOS and iOS 11 were put out. I am looking forward to some of the new features, particularly the expanded editing tools in Photos on the Mac, including Selective Color, which is one of the features that sold me on Aperture when it was first released. Aperture should still be usable with High Sierra, apparently.
Color controls in Aperture
Product Availability and BackupsI have not been particularly happy over the range of devices available here that are suitable for HomeKit or HealthKit use. That was one of the reasons that on my trip home recently, I made a specific point of going into the Regent Street Apple Store and buying a Philips Hue starter kit (Philips have still not replied to my email about availability here). I was outlining technology to a group of science students last week who are not the liveliest I have met. And then, using the iPhone, I gave Siri the instruction to turn on the lights at home and the display on the iPad Pro was changed. That made them sit up.
Slightly related to the above and firmware updates, Natt Garun (The Verge) reports that up to half a million pacemakers need to be updated after it was found that they could be hacked to control pacing or deplete batteries. There was a warning in an early Homeland scene in which Brody used the VP's pacemaker to bring on a heart attack. Truth is stranger than fiction.
I have 3 of these on my desk at home as I write, as well as 2 newer USB-C to USB-C drives (LaCie and CalDigit - both also on sale here) and a couple at work. I had to buy the Belkin cable from Amazon (I ordered two) several months ago and they have proved invaluable in reducing the reliance on adapters; or dongles (used on all platforms) as sarcastic comments have them.
Why do I have all these disks? Insurance. I had my first disaster when burglars came a-calling several years ago and one of the items lost was my delightful 12" PowerBook with all my photos on it. With no backup, I lost over 1700 images then. I have thousands now, and backups for backups. Who can predict when a disk will fail?
That particular point was brought home last week when a local user was faced with a blank screen when he was using his Time Machine disk. He was unable to recover the data and when he took the computer to a shop - which shall remain nameless - they put in the wrong username and wiped the current account (I still can't figure out how this was done), leaving the user with nothing.
I hope that, like my burglary, he will be able to retrieve some files, from cloud services, other disks and the like, but since I lost those photos, I always have at least two Time Machine disks: one at home and one at my office as offsite is safer. I currently have 3 Time Machine disks, plus three disks for the photograph backups, and another disk with a clone of the hard disk in the Mac. There is also iCloud backup for the Mac (Desktop and Documents). Paranoid? You bet.
Hasselblad X1D Field Kit - Image Courtesy of Hasselblad
The other phonesAs much as there is excitement in the tech press about the iPhone (and in my local shop, who ask me often what it will be like), others are determined to upstage Apple, such as Xiaomi who - trying to be like Samsung - are hosting an event for their next smartphone, the day before Apple's announcements are planned (Jon Russell, TechCrunch), unfortunately, despite useful comment on Xiaomi and its products, (as he often does) Russell clones what others repeat about Apple with "the past few tick-tock iterations to boost its brand and shore up falling sales in China." Look at specifications before falling into that trap. "Shore up the brand?" Take a look at the quarterly figures.
For months we have been reading of the expected delays in the iPhone release, so the 12 September event which is on the same schedule as previous years, puts those negative reports in some shade. Reports earlier from sources cited as "usually reliable" also had the supply chain slipping, which obviously meant that Apple was slipping too. The real story is a little different. For example, Patently Apple reports on two such suppliers who apparently have strong revenue growth.
The best take on the "anything but Apple" meme comes from Jack Purcher at Patently Apple who looks at how the Asian press is dealing with Apple's next products, whatever they are, or whatever they are called: "accept that the smartphone circus has rolled into town now that they know that the king of premium smartphones will debut on September 12. "
They are still suggesting that the iPhone X (the apparent 10-year iPhone) will be late; not that any date has been given for this product that may not actually exist. One of the reports cited here takes the same shipping information as above and turns it into a negative, but that is the South Korean press for you: a bastion of honesty. Where is the CEO of Samsung right now?
This follows the news that the NYPD would switch to iPhones from its massive deployment of 36,000 Nokia Lumia phones with Windows 8.1 installed. Tristan Greene (TheNextWeb) was critical of how the decision to use the Nokia phones was made: brand loyalty and not Samsung or Apple, writing that these are the "two things the NYPD shouldn't be basing its decisions on".
A Twist in the TaleIt is not always good to rush to assumptions. I made a note at the weekend that commentators often compare Apple with Samsung, particularly with regard to technical features, although their respective track records makes this unwise. Take the fingerprints - or TouchID as Apple calls it - the Samsung version that came out first was not as strong as Apple's and certainly did not have the secure enclave. That is part of the chip design that Apple controls and only contains mathematical data. There was also that little inconvenience of phones afire last year: actually hardly mentioned by many writers, although one or two iPhones that overheated received great publicity.
This year, according to rumours, the new iPhone will have face-recognition and, what a surprise, the already-released Galaxy Note 8 has face recognition too. Only the rush to be first again, did not seem to be working out as on Twitter, Mel Tajon shows a video of the Samsung device unlocking with just a photo. He writes, that he was " able to unlock the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with people’s Facebook profile pics and Instagram selfies from my iPhone." The link to the Tweet reveals a number of related comments that are worth reading.
However, it may be in demo mode as one comment mentions that the Galaxy S8+ does not open if a picture is used. If the Samsung was in demo mode, this is not a proper test as it is designed to open with any image and Samsung is being unfairly ridiculed.
EndnotesAfter several really successful events in the last 10 years, Apple has decided to cancel its annual music festival held in the Roundhouse, Camden Town, London. Tom Warren (The Verge) suggests that "Apple might be focusing on single events instead."
The developer, Jonas Gessner, removed this after much pressure from Google. Rather than cripple versions already delivered to paying customers with an update which would remove features (as Google wants), he withdrew the app.
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)
For further information, e-mail to
Back to Home Page