February 2020

Apple and iOS news

We have read many successful rescue stories thanks to Find my iPhone' feature. But here is a twist on this, where the Find-my-iPhone-roles were reversed, yet the victim was smart and poised: Woman says iPhone feature saved her from attempted sexual assault at Virginia Beach Oceanfront, reports WTKR.

Apple News teams with ABC News for 2020 presidential election coverage, announced Apple. `Apple News and ABC News will collaborate to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of the key events of the 2020 presidential election, available in the Apple News app.'

Apple’s Wearables Business Is The Size Of A Fortune 150 Company, reports Ubergizmo. `Apple’s wearables is said to have brought in as much as $10 billion in revenue in the latest quarter, up from $7.3 billion from a year ago. This consists of products like the Apple Watch, the AirPods, Beats headphones, and oddly enough the HomePod as well, even though it isn’t exactly a wearable.'

Apple’s Wearables Division Looks Unstoppable, reports Tech.co. `Apple's wearables division, powered by the one-two product punch of Apple Watch and Apple AirPods, earned an “all-time record” last quarter, contributing to a new record of $91.8 billion in quarterly revenues.'

IDC: Apple takes top spot in Q4 2019 worldwide smartphone market share, MacDailyNews reports.

Apple Offering Onsite Device Repairs in Select Cities Through Go Tech Services, reports Macrumors. Currently available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas.

[ RUMOR ] Is Apple building its own satellites? That could mean faster transmission of maps data and iMessages, too. Bernie points us to an article by Popular Mechanics: Everything You Need to Know About Apple's Secret Satellite Project.

Apple wants to standardize the format of SMS OTPs (one-time passcodes), reports ZDNet. `The proposal has two goals. The first is to introduce a way that OTP SMS messages can be associated with an URL. This is done by adding the login URL inside the SMS itself. The second goal is to standardize the format of 2FA/OTP SMS messages, so browsers and other mobile apps can easily detect the incoming SMS, recognize web domain inside the message, and then automatically extract the OTP code and complete the login operation without further user interaction. By doing this, the process of receiving and entering a one-time passcode could be automated, eliminating the risk of a user falling for a scam and entering an OTP code on a phishing site, with the wrong URL.'

Here is the proposal on Github.

New Apple Watch Trade-In Promo Offers Up to $100 for Series 2 and Series 3 Models.

Apple Buys U.K. Startup to Improve iPhone Picture Taking, reports Bloomberg. `Spectral Edge technology improves colors in smartphone photos'. `Spectral Edge uses a type of AI called machine learning to make smartphone pictures crisper, with more accurate colors. Its technology takes an infrared shot and blends it with a standard photo to improve the image.'

Before the Apple acquisition, Spectral's website sated: `Spectral Edge leads the world in Image Fusion technology. We combine our Image Fusion IP with Machine Learning to reveal more of the colour, detail and clarity in a scene. Embedded real-time technology – no filters or apps required.'

Examples of how Spectral Edge improves images:

Fusing visible and IR light:

Spectral Edge blue light reduction:

A new Apple patent shows how Apple Watch may have a flat Digital Crown that recognizes gestures. `Digital Crown could be made to include an optical sensor to register gestures, incorporating mechanisms and sensors to guarantee a proper watch band fit.'

AirPods Pro

9 Apple AirPods tricks, listed by Komando.

iOS 13 and iPadOS 13

Apple delivers a new redesigned Maps for all users in the United States, announced Apple at the end of January. New Apple Maps Designed with Better Road Coverage and Pedestrian Data, More Precise Addresses, and Detailed Land Cover.

Apple’s new map expanded to the remaining parts of the Continental U.S., including Alaska and the Central and Southeastern U.S.: here are more details on this expansion.

Desktop-Class Safari for iPad: A Hands-On Look at the Difference the iPadOS Update Makes to Apple’s Browser, writes John Woorhees, editor of MacStories. He writes: `Safari in iPadOS has become a desktop-class browser. There remain differences between it and its desktop sibling, but the gap has been dramatically narrowed and the differences that remain purposefully leverage the distinctions between the Mac and iPad. The result has transformed frustrating experiences with web apps that simply didn’t work before on the iPad into a productive environment for accomplishing tasks that once required a Mac.'

photography & video

One of the significant new features with iPhone 11 is Night Mode. Depending on how dark the scene is, your iPhone might take a Night mode photo quickly, or it might extend the shutter time for several seconds. A number appears next to the Night mode icon to indicate how long the shot will take.

To experiment with longer Night mode photos, tap the Night mode icon. Then use the slider above the shutter button to choose between Auto and Max. Auto lets the camera decide how long to shoot, and Max takes the longest Night mode shot. When you take the photo, the slider becomes a timer that counts down to the end of the exposure. Be sure to hold still until the capture completes. Here is a report on its use, take a look at the photos:

Using iPhone’s ‘Night Mode’ to Shoot 40 Days of Darkness in Russia’s North, reports Petapixel. `For my latest photo essay Forty Days Of Darkness', I bought the new iPhone 11 Pro and went to Russia's Murmansk, the biggest city in the Arctic circle. From December until January the sun never rises over Murmansk. With the iPhone camera (most of the time) set to night mode, I shot life in the darkness there. Most young people we spoke to said they didn’t mind the winter, when northern lights sparkle in the sky and snow covers the ground. One hotel receptionist said, Anyway, summer only really lasts a week or two and the winter is beautiful here. I prefer it.'

Twitter finally supports Live Photos using GIFs.

iOS apps

Roger S. told us about Toolbox Pro, a utility for iOS Shortcuts. He recommends it for creating or modifying Shortcuts. Roger has used it to set up actions any time he turns off his wake-up alarm.

10 Must-have apps for your new Apple Watch. And even if you don't have an Apple Watch, these are excellent apps for iOS in general.

tips & tricks

What is HomeKit exactly? Roger points us to a nice overview, by Shane Whatley:

For more info from Shane Whatley, on building a relatively inexpensive smart home with Apple HomeKit. Roger recommends it to anyone wanting help in this area:

Shane's YouTube channel.

A reminder: how to call emergency services with your iPhone (iPhone 8 or later): Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the side button and Volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown begins and an alert sounds. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

7 Camera Tips You Should Know for iPhone 11 & iPhone 11 Pro:

What’s the Point of “Disliking” Music on Apple Music? It seems that disliking music is being ignored: Apple Music bases recommendations on likes but does not necessarily avoid dislikes.

gadgets & accessories

Brydge Pro+ is a wirelesskeyboard with trackpad for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd Gen). The oversized trackpad is optimized for iPadOS’s Assistive Touch features. LED Backlit keys provide the ultimate typing experience in low to no light conditions. 3 levels of back light.

Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell will be released soon. It's a doorbell that lets you see your visitors and interact with them. Unlike Ring (that was acquired by Amazon recently) and violated users' privacy, this doorbell supports HomeKit and its privacy requirements.

Also coming out this year is ADT’s Blue Doorbell , reports CultofMac. It supports HomeKit. It has just been posted online in recent days.

In fact, at CES last month, the best of HomeKit devices got attention, reports AppleInsider. `Apple's HomeKit platform is gaining more support from smart home device producers wanting to join the growing ecosystem of inter-connected devices.’

Hands on with HomeKit support for Ikea smart blinds, reports John Ratcliffe.

HyperJuice is a successfully funded Kickstarter project. It is available for retail purchase as well. It is `Credit card size 100W charger that quick charges 4 devices: laptop, tablet, smartphone & USB mobile device, all at the same time.''

HyperDrive is also a Kickstarter project, currently open for support on Kickstarter. It is a compact and portable hub for USB-C ports, USB-A, GbE, HDMI, Display ports, and more.


Apple Card Monthly Installments: How the Interest-Free iPhone Financing Plan Works. The new Monthly Installments financing option allows you to purchase an iPhone with the Apple Card and pay for it over two years with no interest or fees in the United States.


Apple Watch Detects Afib In Woman While She Was Sleeping

Roger S. told us about leather Apple Watch band by Longvadon.

privacy & security

Stephen King quits Facebook over ‘flood of false information’ and privacy concerns, reports The Washington Post. `Announcing his decision to his millions of Twitter followers Friday, the prolific horror writer joined a chorus of criticism toward the social media giant as it resists pressure to remove false claims from politicians. Facebook also opted last month to keep the tools that help politicians and other groups target its users, adding to fears it will mislead voters in the 2020 presidential race.'

Apple delivered a significant update to Maps with the recent update to iOS 13 last month. In their announcement, they also highlighted privacy:

Maps and Privacy: `Apple is committed to keeping personal information safe and has built privacy into the core of Maps. With Maps, no sign-in is required and it is not connected to an Apple ID in any way. Personalized features, such as suggesting departure time to make the next appointment, are created using on-device intelligence. Any data collected by Maps while using the app, like search terms, navigation routing and traffic information, is associated with random identifiers that continually reset to ensure the best possible experience and to improve Maps. Maps goes even further to obscure a user’s location on Apple servers when searching for a location through a process called “fuzzing.” Maps converts the precise location where the search originated to a less-exact one after 24 hours and does not retain a history of what has been searched or where a user has been.'

FBI vs. Iphone Encryption, Round Two: Pensacola Shooter, writes John Gruber, an his succinct column on this matter. `There are two entirely separate issues here, and the FBI either doesn’t understand them or (more likely, I think, but I’m not sure) is willfully conflating them.'

iPhone Hacking Firm Updates Tool in Midst of Apple-FBI Spat, reports Bloomberg. The forensics firm Cellebrite has released a new update its UFED Physical Analyzer software that could be used to access data on iPhones -- including the Pensacola Islamic terrorist’s iPhones at the center of the latest battle between Apple and the U.S. government in recent weeks. Many analysts point out that this instance is being leveraged as a way to pressure Apple to unlock all iPhones, i.e., to provide a backdoor. Apple strongly resists this.

Apple Privacy Executive Defends Encryption After FBI Request, reports Bloomberg. `Horvath says iPhone health, payment data must be protected.'

The article above also reports that Apple's Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath said, during a panel discussion at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas: `iPhones are prone to be lost or stolen, so Apple needs to make sure the devices are encrypted to protect data such as health and payment information'.

(cont'd): `She also called terrorism and child sexual abuse `abhorrent' and stressed that Apple helps law enforcement with investigations every day. Apple regularly responds to warrants by giving investigators access to data that is stored on its servers, such as users’ iCloud account information. However, the company has refused in the past to help authorities unlock iPhones to get on-device data. It has also argued that iPhone security and encryption mean that it can’t access such information even if it wanted to [do so].'

Here is Apple's Privacy and Government Requests information page. `Apple has never created a backdoor or master key to any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government direct access to Apple servers. And we never will.'