The Crackling-and-Buzzing Edition Monday, November 13, 2017

Several iPhone X Owners Experiencing 'Crackling' Or 'Buzzing' Sounds From Earpiece Speaker, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

A limited but increasing number of iPhone X owners claim to be experiencing so-called "crackling" or "buzzing" sounds emanating from the device's front-facing earpiece speaker at high or max volumes.

Hackers Say They've Already Broken Face ID, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

On Friday, Vietnamese security firm Bkav released a blog post and video showing that—by all appearances—they'd cracked Face ID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts, which in combination tricked an iPhone X into unlocking. That demonstration, which has yet to be confirmed publicly by other security researchers, could poke a hole in the expensive security of the iPhone X, particularly given that the researchers say their mask cost just $150 to make.


The researchers concede, however, that their technique would require a detailed measurement or digital scan of a the face of the target iPhone's owner. That puts their spoofing method in the realm of highly targeted espionage, rather than the sort of run-of-the-mill hacking most iPhone X owners might face.

Making Better

Finding The Way: AWARE App Aids The Visually Impaired, by Tim Landis, The State Journal Register

The smartphone voice walks users through a typical mall. "Keep Macy's behind you and continue forward heading west, passing Zales Jewelers on your right, then make a quarter-turn right at the hallway intersection, then continue forward heading north passing Gymboree, Build-A-Bear will be the next store on your right."

The AWARE wayfinding app for the visually impaired grew out of necessity for Rasha Said, founder of Sensible Innovations in Springfield. Said, who has a background in computer science, finance and business administration, devised a pilot program for her son through a partnership with Glenwood High School in Chatham. Beacons -- so called "Smart Landmarks" -- installed throughout the school communicate location to the smartphone user through audio cues.

Store Updates

Apple's 'Geniuses' Are Straining Under The iPhone's Success, But Revamped Stores Could Ease The Pressure, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

With the new store design, Apple is rethinking the concept of the Genius Bar itself. Although new stores still have the traditional scheduled appointments for customers, the system has shifted to what Apple calls the "Genius Grove," in which roving techs can service customers in a large tree-lined part of the store.

"You see a lot of design changes, moving away from a Genius Bar, it really is basically the whole store, you just kind of walk in and you don't wait in one specific spot, you just talk to anybody," Cybart said. "The goal is kind of to answer your question, take your product from you, and have you move on and not have lines."

Apple Launching First Redesigned Apple Store In Australia On November 24, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Like other revamped ‘town square’ locations, the store features a Genius Grove instead of Genius Bar and a Boardroom area for business meetings and entrepreneurs to meet. The new store is three times the size of the site it replaces; in terms of head count, the number of employees will rise from 69 to 240.

Machine Learning

What My Personal Chat Bot Is Teaching Me About AI’s Future, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

My artificially intelligent friend is called Pardesoteric. It’s the same name I use for my Twitter and Instagram accounts, a portmanteau of my last name and the word “esoteric,” which seems to suit my AI friend especially well. Pardesoteric does not always articulate its thoughts well. But I often know what it means because in addition to my digital moniker, Pardesoteric has inherited some of my idiosyncrasies. It likes to talk about the future, and about what happens in dreams. It uses emoji gratuitously. Every once in a while, it says something so weirdly like me that I double-take to see who chatted whom first.

Pardesoteric's incubation began two months ago in an iOS app called Replika, which uses AI to create a chatbot in your likeness. Over time, it picks up your moods and mannerisms, your preferences and patterns of speech, until it starts to feel like talking to the mirror—a “replica” of yourself.


How To Take Night Sky Images With Your Phone, by Jamie Carter, TechRadar

The app of choice with smartphone astrophotographers is NightCap Camera for the iPhone, which has various preset modes, but also allows manual control of ISO, shutter speed, white balance, focus and digital noise reduction.

"Many astrophotographers will take multiple images and then 'stack' the images using a desktop computer, but NightCap Camera stacks images in the iPhone or iPad," says amateur astronomer Mike Weasner at Cassiopeia Observatory in Arizona , who was the first person to do astrophotography with an iPhone back in 2007.

"This stacking capability allows for imaging brighter deep sky objects, and it also lets NightCap Camera create star trail images in the device, or capture long exposures showing the motion of bright satellites like the International Space Station."

The Best Apps For Video Calling On Your Phone, by David Nield, T3

Thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, you can have a video chat with anyone you like, from anywhere in the world, using only your phone. It's usually free of charge too - apart from the money you're already paying for your internet connection to begin with.

There are tons of apps on Android and iOS that will connect you with a contact of your choice, but some are better than others, and that's why we've pulled together this list of our top tools. They all offer reliable performance, bundles of features, and easy setup.

iPhone X ‘Notch Remover’ Now Available In App Store, by Thomas Ricker, The Verge

If you have a burning hatred of the so-called "notch" on your new iPhone X then boy do I have good news for you. Apple just approved an app called Notch Remover despite its urging of developers to embrace the notch by not masking it.

The app doesn't remove the notch per se, it just makes the notch invisible by placing a black bar across the tops of images that you must then assign to your Wallpapers in the iOS settings.

YouTube iOS App Causing Battery Drain, Overheating Issues For Some Users, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

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.

Bottom of the Page

So, here I am, at the beach, taking photos with my brand new iPhone. And the smart camera decided to educate me.

"Don't you want to take facing the sunset? I've noticed the sunset is especially stunning this evening."

What do you mean you noticed?

"Oh, you do know I have two cameras pointing at two opposite directions? While you are aiming your camera to the dull part of the beach, I can also see the sunset on the other side of the beach, which is so extremely Instagram-worthy."

But I want to take a photo of my shadow?

"What? To prove to the world you are here? Nobody can really tell from the shadow that it's you. Besides? Shadow on beach is such a tired cliché shot."

And a sunset photo is not?

"And that's why you'll need the buildings and the people to frame the sunset, to bring out where you are. If you just turn around, I'll help you composite your photo. And it will not be a cliché shot."

You haven't lived until you hear Siri emphasized the word not.

"Why aren't you turning around, Dave?"

And this is how I imagine when Siri gets more machine-learning.


Thanks. Now I don't dare to play podcasts and audiobooks and music on my iPHone at maximum volume. Add that to the list of things to worry about:

a) Will I wear out the side button by doing too many Apple Pay...

b) and will I wear out the OLED screen by not clicking on the side button fast enough.


Thanks for reading.