Connect with us

Tech

MEET THE IPHONE X, APPLE’S NEW HIGH-END HANDSET

Published

on

THE NEW IPHONE X packs more new stuff into any device since the original iPhone. It’s the most complete redesign of the product ever and even offers a glimpse at what the iPhone might become when the world no longer wants smartphones. Of course, you probably won’t buy one. Even if you can afford the super high price, getting your hands on an iPhone X in the next few months will be like hunting for the holy grail. Except in this case, the fancy one is the right answer.

Today, at an event in Cupertino that doubled as a grand opening of its new spaceship of a campus, Apple launched three new iPhones. Yes, three. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus upgrade the existing models without completely changing them. (More on those in a second.) The third model, the iPhone X, is another thing entirely.

Meet the X

First of all, the X looks like no other phone. It doesn’t even look like an iPhone. On the front, it’s screen head to foot, save for a small trapezoidal notch taken out of the top where Apple put selfie cameras and sensors. Otherwise, the bezel around the edge of the phone has been whittled to near-nonexistence and the home button disappeared—all screen and nothing else. The case is made of glass and stainless steel, like the much-loved iPhone 4. The notched screen might take some getting used to, but the phone’s a stunner. It goes on sale starting at $999 on October 27, and it ships November 3.

The screen itself, called a Super Retina Display, is a 1125×2436 OLED display reportedly made by Samsung. It’s the first time Apple’s used OLED tech in an iPhone, and it offers some big advantages. On a normal LCD screen, even black pixels are lit up a bit, which means you’re never seeing true black—just really dark gray. OLED, on the other hand, can light some pixels but not others, which means black pixels just stay off. Your dark colors will seem much darker, other colors even richer, and even text becomes more pleasant to read. Apple’s also incorporated its TrueTone technology for white-balancing the screen in different conditions, which should make everything look even better.

Since there’s no room for the home button on the front, a bunch of the feature’s functions have been moved to the power button, which Apple’s apparently calling the “side button” now. Long-press it for Siri, double click for Apple Pay. There’s still a little tactility in this phone, even as it becomes little more than a pane of glass.

Even with the huge screen, the iPhone X more closely resembles the iPhone 7. The iPhone’s screen-to-size ratio was always one of the smallest in the industry, thanks to the home button and Apple’s undying love for design symmetry. Getting rid of the home button allowed Jony Ive’s design team to get rid of so much more—just imagine your iPhone 7, but everywhere there’s metal, imagine screen. That’s the iPhone X.

Like the other two phones, the iPhone X runs Apple’s latest processor, the A11 Bionic, along with 3 gigs of RAM. It’s been years since the iPhone wanted for processing power, but the iPhone X might need all it can get. It has to power all that screen, for one thing, but Apple also seems to have created the iPhone X as a foray deeper into both artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Both require serious horsepower.

The iPhone X’s stated battery life has improved—Apple says it lasts two hours longer than the iPhone 7—and so has its charger. After years of observing the Android ecosystem’s messy and multi-standard embrace of wireless charging, Apple’s finally in the game. You won’t have to plug your X into the wall to charge it; you’ll just lay it down on the inductive pad. Apple is adopting the Qi standard, so it will work with current Qi pads by companies like Mophie and Belkin. Apple is also releasing its own charging accessory called AirPower that has room for your iPhone and your Apple Watch.

The camera, of course, has always been one of the iPhone’s standout features. rolling out a series of upgrades to the experience: You’ll be able to capture slow-motion film in higher definition or shoot film-style 4K. With the new Portrait Lighting mode, you’ll be able to tweak the flash on the back of the iPhone to fill a little more naturally—or make it look like your subject’s lit by a spotlight on stage. Up to you.

The back-facing camera array has been rotated 90 degrees so the bump runs vertically. Inside are dual 12-megapixel cameras, just like in iPhone 8 Plus, with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures. Dual optical image stabilization mitigates shakes in both cameras. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has this too, and it looks amazing. The iPhone X’s camera array also has a quad-LED True Tone Flash.

Turn and Face the Strange

In terms of how you actually use your iPhone, the new Face ID may be the most important new feature of the iPhone X. When you first start using an iPhone X, you’ll go through a short setup, the face version of registering your thumbprint—you’ll peer into the front-facing camera, framing your face just right, then turn your head left and right so the iPhone’s sensors can get a good look.

Once you set up Face ID, the feature essentially replaces your fingerprint. You’ll unlock your phone by holding it up to your face, pay for things by holding it up to your face, and log in to apps … by holding it up to your face. It requires your attention to unlock the phone, and Apple says it has done extensive work to make sure masks and photos can’t fool it. Apple appears to see the feature as a way to help you use the phone while you’re using it. The iPhone X can double-check whether you’re using the phone before shutting off the screen, and if it sees you’re looking it won’t play loud alert sounds. There are a lot of things Apple could do when it knows you’re looking at the phone, many of them cool and some of them very creepy. (Be sure to read Andy Greenberg’s initial dive into the security of Face ID.)

All of these facial-recognition features are made possible by an array of cameras and sensors packed into that notch at the top of the screen. The TrueDepth array, as Apple calls it, projects infrared dots onto your face to map it, captures that image, then uses a dedicated processor to interpret the face data. The promise is that it can always be sure it’s really you looking at the phone, even if you’re wearing glasses or you change your hair or grow a beard. The same tech that powers Face ID also comes to life inside the new Animoji, which are iMessage emoji that map to your face, so you can put your voice into the mouth of a unicorn or a dog. Not creepy!

Apple touted Face ID as both more secure and more convenient than a fingerprint, and the onstage demos certainly made it look that way. It’s very fast; about as snappy as Touch ID. But Samsung and others have already tried to make the feature work, and it’s been neither secure nor convenient.

Lucky Number 8

If you can’t get your hands on an iPhone X in the near future, Apple still has two new models for you. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both look like the iPhone 7—with home buttons!—but offer a few big upgrades to match the iPhone X. Both new models support wireless charging, run the latest A11 Bionic processor, and have 2 gigs of RAM. They also have glass backs, which gives them a glossy new look. They don’t have OLED screens, but they’re getting the same TrueTone tech as the X, and they can shoot video in 4K.

In most years, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus would be the “S” phones, a mid-generation upgrade. But this year, partly as a show of strength and partly to keep up with the Note and Galaxy numberings, they’re the iPhones 8. You can buy them in black, silver, and a newly retooled gold finish for $699 and up for the regular one, $799 for the big one. You can preorder the 8 and 8 Plus on September 15, and the phones arrive in stores on September 22.

If you’ve been obsessively following rumors and firmware leaks, little about the iPhone announcements came as a surprise. After Tim Cook promised to “double down on secrecy,” the secrets spilled faster than ever. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported many of the device’s details, as did developer Steve Troughton Smith. But the biggest leakcame last weekend, just a few days before the announcement, when the final build of iOS 11 leaked to 9to5Mac. The firmware was absolutely loaded with details, from Animoji images to Face ID setup videos to the names of the new devices. This was Apple’s biggest announcement in years, and possibly its least surprising.

Still, the iPhone X should excite you. Not just because it’s cool-looking and futuristic, one giant step closer to the “just a screen in your hand” device so many science fiction lovers imagined. This iPhone moves a number of important ideas forward. Apple has the unique power to make, say, wireless charging work—and between the three new models, Apple instantly makes relevant whatever standard it chooses.

Most of all, the iPhone X makes a powerful statement that augmented reality is coming. It might be here already. When Apple launched the iPhone 10 years ago, the device was three things: a phone, an internet communicator, and an iPod. It’s so many more now, to so many more people, but the iPhone X may be the first to be redesigned around a specific new purpose. The more dynamic screen, the vertically stacked cameras, the tiny bezels, the faster processor—all those things work together to make the iPhone X primarily about what’s on the other side. You’re not supposed to look at this device, but through it.

Briefing Room

How the U.S. is using terrorists’ smartphones and laptops to defeat them

Published

on

USA TODAY — Smartphones helped terror organizations grow and communicate. Now the devices are contributing to their downfall.

In a nondescript, highly secured building in this Washington suburb, a group of U.S. government technicians and linguists are downloading massive amounts of data from phones, hard drives, CDs and other devices, providing a huge boost to the U.S. intelligence community as it hunts terrorists.

Many of the devices have been captured from battlefields in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State has lost virtually all the territory it captured in 2014.
“This is the future,” Kolleen Yacoub, director of the National Media Exploitation Center, told USA TODAY in a rare interview at the center’s headquarters.

It was the first time the center, which also supports law enforcement and other agencies, has allowed a journalist into the facility, providing insight into a critical but little known part of the intelligence community.

The center grew from a handful of employees when it was established in 2003 to about 700 today, including offices overseas. It has about 100 linguists.

“The ability to exploit captured electronic hardware is a great capability that we have adopted and expanded and improved tremendously over the past 15 years,” said Jim Howcroft, a retired Marine intelligence officer and director of the terrorism program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

The center in Maryland, managed by the Defense Intelligence Agency, reviews paper documents as well as electronic items.

But it is the proliferation of laptops and cellphones that has fueled the growth in this type of intelligence gathering.

Smartphones hold massive amounts of information critical to intelligence analysts, including photos, telephone numbers, GPS data and Internet searches.

Users generally assume the device won’t be compromised and don’t take precautions to protect the data, Yacoub said.

“What they’re saving on their devices is ground truth,” Yacoub said. “We tend to treat our digital devices, our mobile devices … as personal items and we don’t lie to them.”

“The adversaries don’t lie to them either,” she said.

The data include videos and photos that help identify militants and their leaders.

Even when a device is damaged or information is deleted, the center’s technicians recover 60% to 80% of the data. “Deleted does not mean lost” is one of the center’s mottoes.

The amount of data coming into the center has skyrocketed in the past two years, Yacoub said, mainly because of the campaign against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

The data analysis has been particularly helpful in giving intelligence analysts an unprecedented look at how the radical group operated in Iraq and Syria because of the ubiquity of smartphones and the meticulous way ISIS kept records in areas it controlled.

The data include tens of thousands of personnel records on foreign fighters and their families with dates of birth, aliases, phone numbers, jobs and other valuable intelligence.

“They have their own central government in a sense,” Yacoub said.

ISIS had departments that developed drone technology, chemical weapons, finance and propaganda operations. It also kept detailed records on the bureaucracy it created to provide services in areas it controlled.

Some of the terror leaders have been captured fleeing the battlefield with reams of information in the hopes that they can use it to keep the group active or to regroup after the loss of territory.

“If you’re committed to sustaining this organization and you’re going to take your show on the road … then you’re taking everything you can with you,” Marine Brig. Gen. James Glynn, deputy commanding general of the Special Operations Joint Task Force, said in an interview from Baghdad.

The intelligence is helping analysts map out how the Islamic State may try to evolve.

“If you don’t have a clear understanding of how ISIS is operating today, I don’t think you can really understand where they are going to next,” said Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threat Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They are not going to disappear.”

Continue Reading

Tech

Strava fitness tracking map reveals military bases, movements in war zones

Published

on

An interactive online map can show the locations and activities of fitness watch users, raising security concerns about soldiers and other personnel at U.S. military bases in sensitive areas.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the locations and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile app. The map is not live, but shows a pattern of accumulated activity between 2015 and September 2017.

The map shows a great deal of activity in the U.S. and Europe. But in war zones and deserts in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for scattered evidence of activity.

A closer look at those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of well-known U.S. military bases, as well as other lesser-known and potentially sensitive sites — possibly because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.

The Global Heat Map was posted online in November 2017, but the information it contains was only publicized recently.

The data could provide information to someone who wants to attack or ambush troops, the Post reported.

Military officials are looking into the situation to determine how to respond.

“DoD takes matters like these very seriously and is reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required, and if any additional policy must be developed to ensure the continued safety of DoD personnel at home and abroad,” Maj. Audricia Harris, a Defense Department spokeswoman, told The Associated Press.

Continue Reading

Australia

My Australia: From washing dishes to Qantas executive

Published

on

‘My Australia’ is a special SBS News series exploring cultural heritage and identity, and asking what it means to be Australian in 2018.

Jamila Gordon is a long way from the small village where she was born. She fled Somalia’s civil war and came alone to Australia as a young refugee. She couldn’t speak a word of English.

But that didn’t stop her from becoming a top tech executive for companies including Qantas.

“The village (where I was born) was very desolate, dusty, we had water in the wells,” Ms Gordon told SBS News.

“My mother was pregnant every year, or she had a baby … In the end, she had 16 children.”

At 18 Jamila was separated from her family and sent to Kenya.

Her family moved to Mogadishu to avoid a drought. But just before the civil war broke out they were separated. Ms Gordon was sent to live with distant relatives in Kenya.

“Through my friends in Kenya, I met an Australian backpacker. It was his second day in Kenya and we became friends and he sponsored me to Australia,” she said.

At 18 years old, Jamila found herself in Sydney alone and unable to speak the language.

She quickly learned English at TAFE and got a job washing dishes, earning five dollars an hour. She went to university in Melbourne to study accounting, before taking an IT elective and falling in love with it.

She says IT had some surprising similarities to her first school in Somalia.

“The process I used to memorise the Koran in the village where I was born, was exactly the same as the process of software programming that I used when I was at Latrobe University,” Ms Gordon said.

Jamila arrived in Sydney a young refugee with no English.
Supplied

After university she got a job as a software programmer and climbed her way up the ladder, working in Europe for major companies including IBM. She later returned to Australia to become chief information officer at Qantas.

She is currently based in Sydney and works with smaller tech start-ups, helping them get off the ground.

Rod Bishop CEO of Jayride, a start-up marketplace for transport hire, says working with Ms Gordon has been a perfect fit.

“There’s really not a lot of growth-focused technology people operating at an extremely high level in Australia. So it was an absolute pleasure and we saw eye to eye straight away,” Mr Bishop said.

Jamila Gordon today.
SBS News

Former professional colleague David Thodey, who is the chairman of the board at CSRIO, says Jamila brings a unique approach to her work.

“She’s always had a vision for what she wanted to do, but a great determination and incredible will and drive to get the job done.”

 

Continue Reading

TRENDING