by Lance Somoza

Apple

All about Apple, including rumors and speculation abound.


Quite a few folks chimed in on a growing issue with the MacBook and MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard yesterday. Already polarizing in terms of key travel and feel, there seems to be underlying issues with the technology or implementation on a large scale.

Casey Johnston for The Outline:

[…] There were no mysteriously faulty innerworkings. It was the spacebar. It was broken. And not even physically broken — it still moved and acted normally. But every time I pressed it once, it spaced twice.

“Maybe it’s a piece of dust,” the Genius had offered. The previous times I’d been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem — a misbehaving keyboard — Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn’t believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. […]

Stephen Hackett for 512 Pixels:

As outlined in the most recent episode of Connected, the keyboard on my Late 2016, 13-inch TouchBar-equipped MacBook Pro is not doing well.

A couple of weeks ago, its i key started feeling a little sticky. This keyboard does not boast a large amount of travel, but this key was barely moving at all when pressed.

One of the tiny arms that the key cap clips onto is broken. My nearly $2,000 laptop that I bought less than a year ago is now missing a key, as I shared with our Connected audience this weekend before using an iBook G3 for the rest of the sho

I fully understand this because I am experiencing nearly the same thing on my 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro. For the past few weeks, the ‘Q’ key has become what can only be described as ‘stuck’. That is to say that half the time I press it, there’s a noticeable snag before the key actually depresses accompanied by a garish CLACK sound as the key travels downward. I have carefully removed the key and sprayed the hell out of the switch a couple times to no avail. Upon close inspection, there doesn’t seem to be any debris, so the whole situation is maddening. I have been putting off a trip to the Apple Store, but I will unfortunately have to take it in.

I don’t mind the actual shallow key travel too much, but I prefer the feel of the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard over it.

Marco Arment also chimed in with the following on Twitter:

Apple needs to do two things, in my opinion:

  1. Offer free ‘sticky key’ repairs for all 2016/2017 MacBooks and MacBook Pros beyond current warranty periods.
  2. Fix the design for the next iteration. There is something really flawed here if the low-profile key is more prone to dust and debris issues than a higher profile one.

The MacBook line has largely been viewed as neglected over the past couple years, so this really adds insult to injury. If Apple does nothing, they’re just begging for a class action lawsuit.

Astro HQ, makers of the popular Astropad app which allows you to use your iPad as a secondary (tethered) monitor for your Mac, have announced a very interesting feature for their new Luna Display product 1 called the ‘Camera Button’. They have essentially turned the iPad’s front-facing camera into a button for triggering the Luna app’s UI.

Savannah Reising for Astro HQ:

Our problem started three years ago when we were working on our first product, Astropad. With Astropad mirroring your Mac screen on your iPad, you end up getting a unique UI overlap. First, there’s Mac UI showing up on your iPad, coming from whatever Mac program you’re using, such as Photoshop or Sketch. On top of that, there’s the native iPad UI. So if we wanted to add our own Astropad UI, where would it go? We didn’t want to create a crazy matrix of conflicting UI, so we looked for a way to minimize it.

On the first solution:

Our first solution for this tangled UI was the Astropad “ring.” It’s a little movable ring that always appears on your iPad screen when you’re working in Astropad. Tap on it once brings up a sidebar with shortcuts and settings. Tap on it again and it disappears. But could we minimize our UI real estate even more? As handy as this little ring was, it still gets in the way.

On creating the button:

Our Astro HQ cofounder Giovanni Donelli said that the idea to turn the camera into a button came like lightning, “I had been staring at a white bezel iPad for so long, and I kept wishing there was another home button we could use. My eyes kept falling on the camera, and I really wanted to touch it!” Giovanni built an initial prototype of the Camera Button within an hour.

Quite ingenious.

Savannah goes on to point out a couple of the the obvious concerns that come from having an always-on camera. First, according to their analysis, “the Camera Button requires less than 1% CPU to run”, and is therefore energy efficient. Second, she goes on to say they have designed the app so that the camera only detects light coming in — all other data is blurred and never leaves the iPad itself.

This is a bold move. When developers have done things like this in the past, Apple has sometimes rejected their ingenuity. I’m not sure if Apple has exact guidelines against this interaction, but we’ll see if the feature gets to stay. After all, the privacy concerns are real, especially if implemented by not-so-honest developers. If it’s allowed, I can see the ‘Camera Button’ being replicated in short order by other apps.


  1. Whereas Astropad requires a cable, Luna Display is a hardware solution that plugs into your Mac and pairs with your iPad wirelessly to function as a secondary monitor. ↩︎

TIm Cook sat down with Andrew Griffin from The Independent to talk about Augmented Reality.

On how widespread AR will become:

“Think back to 2008, when the App Store went live. There was the initial round of apps and people looked at them and said, ‘this is not anything, mobile apps are not going to take off’.”

“And then step by step things start to move. And it is sort of a curve, it was just exponential – and now you couldn’t imagine your life without apps. Your health is on one app, your financials, your shopping, your news, your entertainment – it’s everything.”

“AR is like that. It will be that dramatic.”

I think Tim’s right in terms of AR eventually being everywhere — this is the stuff of science fiction! That said, it’s going to take truly transformative experiences for the masses to jump on board. While furniture apps are cool, there’s a possibility they could be seen as the fart apps of AR after a while.

On AR glasses:

“There are rumours and stuff about companies working on those – we obviously don’t talk about what we’re working on.”

“But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that.”

“The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet,”

That’s a nice way of saying Google Glass without actually saying it. Don’t get me wrong, Glass was pretty cool, but it was nowhere near ready for the masses, and why it has been relegated to factories. True AR glasses (or whatever form they come in) are going to be game changing.

On AirPods/audio as part of the AR experience:

I asked Cook whether he saw Apple’s AirPods – the wireless earphones that also allow their wearer to talk to Siri and hear directions – as a kind of augmented reality technology. He didn’t, but said that he can “envision audio becoming a key part of the AR experience”, referencing a game we had played that was soundtracked by the beautiful and dynamic twinkling of a Japanese rock garden.

I have been saying the AirPods (and Watch) could potentially be part of Apple’s AR strategy. If you notice, Tim’s distinction here is that AirPods are not AR, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still play a role. As for the Watch, I could see it providing motion data for games or possibly used as an input device.

Ming-Chi Kuo:

We predict iOS devices to be equipped with TrueDepth Camera in 2018F will include iPhone X and 2018 new iPhone and iPad models. Because of this, we believe more developers will pay attention to TrueDepth Camera/ facial recognition related applications. We expect Apple’s (US) major promotion of facial recognition related applications will encourage the Android camp to also dedicate more resources to developing hardware and facial recognition applications.

TrueDepth and Face ID will obviously make it into iPad (and Mac), but it’s a question of when. Unless Apple can overcome the low yields on the 3D sensor they are currently experiencing, I think Kuo’s expectation may be a bit of a stretch for next year. Even more so if the iPhone 9 (?) is also going to be upgraded to TrueDepth.

Next year is going to be even more interesting than this one, if only to see where Apple will take these brand new technologies next.

Futuremark:

Our benchmarking data shows that, rather than intentionally degrading the performance of older models, Apple actually does a good job of supporting its older devices with regular updates that maintain a consistent level of performance across iOS versions.

Check out the nicely-compiled data and graphs. Now can we please finally put the nail in the coffin on this one? I get that it stems from a misunderstanding of technology, but it’s beyond beating a dead horse.

Update Notes:

watchOS 4.0.1 fixes issues that in rare cases were causing Apple Watch to join unauthenticated (captive) Wi-Fi networks, such as those found in public places like coffee shops and hotels, which direct the user to a webpage before the network can be accessed.

Quite a mouthful. Good on Apple for issuing a quick fix. Even though it seemed like an extremely rare bug, it was still sloppy.

Gary Sims from Android Authority does a good job breaking down the reason why Apple’s A11 Bionic chip outperforms Qualcomm’s recent offerings.

Gary on the difference between Apple, Qualcomm, and others:

Apple designs processors that use ARM’s 64-bit instruction architecture. That means that Apple’s chips use the same underlying RISC architecture as Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei and others. The difference is that Apple holds an architectural license with ARM, which allows it to design its own chips from scratch. […]

This is widely-known. Also, Apple’s purchase of PA Semi in 2008 has made significant contribution to their chip gains.

On A11 Bionic:

The six CPU cores are made up of two high-performance cores (codenamed Monsoon), and four energy-efficient cores (codenamed Mistral). Unlike the Apple A10, which also had a cluster of high performance cores and a cluster of energy-efficient cores, the A11 is able to use all six cores simultaneously.

Emphasis his. This is really key when it comes to the jump we’re seeing. By comparison, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 (an octa-core processor), can’t use all cores at the same time.

Geekbench Results

Gary compared the A11 Bionic, A10X Fusion, and Snapdragon 835 via Geekbench. The results aren’t even close.

Benchmark A11 Bionic A10X Fusion Snapdragon 835
Single Core 4260 3399 1998
Multi-Core 10221 5386 6765

These results really speak for themselves. You can say “they’re just benchmarks and not real-world comparisons”, but I’ve lost count of how many times Android-to-iPhone switchers say how fast, smooth, and seamless the experience is on iOS. This is largely thanks to Apple’s silicon. 1

On the difference between Apple’s cores (two points):

First, Apple had a head-start over just about everyone when it comes to 64-bit ARM based CPUs. Although ARM itself announced the Cortex-A57 back in October 2012, the proposed timeline was that ARM’s partners would ship the first processors during 2014. But Apple had a 64-bit ARM CPU in devices during 2013. The company has since managed to capitalize on that early lead and has produced a new CPU core design every year.

Second, Apple’s SoC efforts are tightly coupled to its handset releases. Designing a high performance mobile CPU is hard. It is hard for Apple; for ARM; for Qualcomm; for everyone. Because it is hard, it takes a long time. The Cortex-A57 was announced in October 2012, but it didn’t appear in a smartphone until April 2014. That is a long lead time. That lead time is changing.

For example: the Kirin 960 in the Huawei Mate 9 was released just 8 months after the ARM Mali-G71 GPU was delivered to Huawei. There is an argument that since Apple does everything in-house, then that tight coupling allows it to shave a few precious weeks off the development cycle.

Both of these points are highly important. Apple started pushing early for 64-bit architecture, which was called a marketing gimmick by a Qualcomm exec back in 2013, and even questioned by some Apple diehards. It paid off, as most will agree (including Gary) that Apple is now two years ahead of everyone else in this arena. Looks like Apple knew what they were doing after all. Go figure.

Bottom line: Apple has been making bespoke silicon for their products since 2013 and the tangible results are becoming even more apparent with each new release. Also, I’m willing to be Apple is saving a whole lot more than just “a few precious week” off the development cycle for these chips.

Steve always said Apple wanted to own as much of the technology stack as possible in order to make hardware and software that work in tandem. That is never more true than it is today, further taking into account the W-series chip for Bluetooth audio and the Watch’s S-series SIP. As for new territory, the A11 Bionic has a first-ever Apple-designed GPU. They are even rumored to be working on a chip to specifically tackle AI tasks. See a pattern emerging here?

Maybe before long, we’ll see Apple’s silicon replace Intel’s in the Mac. It’s been a long-standing theory, but one that is starting to sound more plausible with every A-series release. With these kinds of gains between generations, an ARM-powered Mac could be a force to be reckoned with.


  1. Software, too. ↩︎

Rene Ritchie for iMore:

In the wake of the devastation wrought by recent hurricanes and earthquakes, politicians in the U.S. are calling for Apple and other manufacturers to turn on the FM radios that they presume are lying dormant in iPhones and other phones. I really wish — and I suspect Apple and other manufacturers really wish — it was that as simple. But it’s not. And, unfortunately, politicians aren’t often well versed in technology, and they often don’t ask before they soundbite.

Statement from Apple provided to Rene:

“Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products,” Apple told iMore. “Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.”

Rene on older iPhones and other phones:

For older iPhones and other phones, even if it was possible to just “flip a switch” and enable FM on the chipset, significant additional roadblocks remain. Those chips may not be connected in a way that makes FM radio even possible. Assuming they were, changes would likely require an update to the wireless chipset firmware (Apple rolls its own, other manufacturers would need to request updates from Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel, or whichever company manufactured the chip).

It’s a nice sentiment, but politicians don’t know what the hell they are talking about in regards to technology. What else is new, right? I’m increasingly convinced we need way more technology-minded folks in office.

Matthew Panzarino for TechCrunch:

Apple is switching the default provider of its web searches from Siri, Search inside iOS (formerly called Spotlight) and Spotlight on the Mac. So, for instance, if Siri falls back to a web search on iOS when you ask it a question, you’re now going to get Google results instead of Bing.

Consistency is Apple’s main motivation given for switching the results from Microsoft’s Bing to Google in these cases. Safari on Mac and iOS already currently use Google search as the default provider, thanks to a deal worth billions to Apple (and Google) over the last decade. This change will now mirror those results when Siri, the iOS Search bar or Spotlight is used.

On privacy:

As is expected with Apple now, searches and results are all encrypted and anonymized and cannot be attributed to any individual user. Once you click on the ‘Show Google results’ link, of course, you’re off to Google and its standard tracking will apply. Clicking directly on a website result will take you straight there, not through Google.

This is surprising. I tried out a couple searches with Siri on my iPad (see below). Sure enough, it’s already serving Google results including YouTube videos.

This is an interesting move, and I can’t say I’ve ever cared much for Bing search. While Google has always been accurate for me, I don’t really agree with their privacy and tracking perspectives. I would have liked to see Apple team up with DuckDuckGo (already a Safari search option). If you care about search privacy, check them out.

Siri Google search.
Siri Google search.

Siri YouTube search.
Siri YouTube search.

Nicole Nguyen from Buzzfeed went behind the scenes with Apple’s SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts to get a glimpse of how Apple handles pre-orders and launch day for iPhone.

This is pretty cool, and it’s great to see Angela have a more public presence. You can tell she is really engrossed in Apple’s vision by the way she talks. I got some strong ‘Tim Cook’ vibes from her.

The video shows Apple’s War Room, used to coordinate pre-order go lives. I have often wondered what this situation looked like — as it turns out, sort of like a small-scale NASA mission control.

Despite Apple’s big hype push today, many Apple Stores are seeing less and less people in line for iPhone 8 this morning. I can confirm this, as I picked up my Apple Watch Series 3 at my local Apple Store today. Last year when I picked up the iPhone 7, there were easily over 100 people in line at 8am. This year, there were only about 20 waiting for iPhone 8 (even less when I left around 8:30). As I saw this, I thought to myself, “Wait … this can’t be right. You mean to tell me there are loads of people that do want the $1,000+ iPhone X? Honestly, who could have seen that coming?” It’s a mystery.

Reviews for iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and Apple TV 4K are in (and largely positive). Here are a few that caught my eye.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Just know that the iPhones 8 are fast as hell thanks to the A11 Bionic chip. Now, here are some other interesting points.

Nilay Patel for The Verge on the iPhone 8’s stagnant design:

[…] And that’s really the problem — while competitors like Samsung and LG have pushed phone hardware design far forward, the iPhone has basically stood still for four years. The iPhone 8 might be the most polished iteration of this basic design Apple’s ever made, but compared to the Galaxy S8 and other Android flagships like the LG V30, it’s just extremely dated. Apple’s true competitor to those devices is the iPhone X, but the company tells us that the 8 is also a flagship phone, and those huge bezels and surfboard dimensions just don’t cut it at the top end of the market anymore.

I somewhat agree with Nilay. There is nothing exciting about the design of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Sure, the glass back looks nice, but it’s practically the same overall design of the iPhone 6. That said, I think it’s out of necessity. Apple obviously wants all iPhones to look and function like the iPhone X one day, but the manufacturing scale just isn’t there yet. Until then, simply changing the design of the phone for design’s sake wouldn’t be productive.

John Gruber for Daring Fireball on the A11 Bionic chip’s name:

I asked Apple last week what exactly was “bionic” about the A11 chip system. The answer, translated from Apple marketing-speak to plain English, is that The Bionic Man and Woman were cool, and the A11 chip is very cool. I think they’ve started giving these chips names in addition to numbers (last year’s was the A10 Fusion) because the numbers alone belie the true nature of how significant the improvements in these chips are. Going from A10 to A11 is like going from 10 to 11 mathematically, which implies a 10 percent improvement. That’s not the case at all here — the A11 is way more than a 10 percent improvement over the A10. So they’ve given it a name like “Bionic” to emphasize just how powerful it is.

TL;DR: marketing. I get it. Still don’t agree with Bionic, though. By comparison, A10X Fusion is much better.

On Qi “wireless” charging:

I’m glad Apple decided to support the Qi (pronounced “chee”) standard, which several Android handsets already support. This is an area where Apple has been behind its competition. You know how like 10 years ago, hotels started buying bedside alarm clocks with built-in 30-pin iPod docks? And then they were rendered useless when the iPhone switched to Lightning? And how those Lightning docks are utterly useless to Android users? If they start switching to Qi charging pads, it’ll just work for everyone, and that’s a good thing.

This is a nice addition. I suspect Qi pervasiveness is going to skyrocket due to it simply being supported by iPhone.

Apple TV 4K

Nilay Patel for The Verge on Dolby Vision HDR and content deals:

Now, you do get a lot for that $179: the Apple TV is currently the only standalone box that supports the Dolby Vision HDR standard, which is a big deal. (The $69 Chromecast Ultra supports it, but it’s spotty and it lacks its own interface.) Apple’s worked deals with most major studios to price 4K HDR movies at a cheaper $19.99 instead of the usual $29.99 Vudu and Google Play charge, which is terrific. And every HD movie you’ve already bought on iTunes will be upgraded to 4K HDR for free as they get remastered. Several of my movies have already been upgraded, which is very nice, especially because Apple’s encoding is much better than other services. If you have a large existing iTunes library or you buy a lot of movies, you might come out way ahead by investing in an Apple TV 4K.

On its limitations:

But the new Apple TV doesn’t support Atmos. And it doesn’t support YouTube in 4K HDR. And it doesn’t have Disney or Marvel movies in 4K HDR. And it makes some 1080p content look less than great.

I’m going to explain why these limitations exist, but you’ll have to bear with me. […]

Nilay’s review is extremely detailed. If you’re a TV spec buff, you’ll want to read this one.

Devindra Hardawar for Engadget on video quality:

So how do the 4K films actually look? Simply put: stunning. Kong: Skull Island started playing within a second, and it was sharp from the get-go, with no need for buffering. It’s a film with plenty of explosions, gorgeous natural imagery and giant monsters, all of which made it the perfect 4K/Dolby Vision demo. When Kong stands in front of the bright tropical sun, I had to shield my eyes a bit – it was almost as if I was looking at actual daylight. And since there are plenty of dusk and night scenes, the film really shows off HDR’s ability to add more detail to darker scenes.

Marshall Honorof for Tom’s Guide on internet speed requirements:

You’ll need a pretty powerful Internet connection to stream 4K HDR content (you need at least 25 Mbps down, which is more than what we got on a standard home Wi-Fi network), but content loads quickly and smoothly. Streams usually took just a few seconds to buffer before reaching full 1080p HD, and perhaps an additional 5 seconds before 4K HDR kicked in. This will vary depending on the strength of your internet connection, but if you have the requisite speed, the Apple TV 4K will leverage it.

It sounds like the Apple TV 4K is great, but not without its share of caveats. For someone who doesn’t care enough about 4K yet, the Apple TV needed to get faster performance-wise. The 4th generation Apple TVs are nice, but can be sluggish at times when navigating the UI. I’ve only read anecdotally that the new Apple TV 4K is better in this regard due to the A10X Fusion chip, which makes sense in theory. Also, it’s about damn time this product has a Gigabit Ethernet jack.

Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi in an email reply to a MacRumors user:

Hi Adam,

We regretfully had to temporarily drop support for this gesture due to a technical constraint. We will be bringing it back in an upcoming iOS 11.x update.

Thanks (and sorry for the inconvenience)!

I’m glad to see this coming back, but I wonder what the technical constraint was. Maybe something to do with iPhone X? Speaking of which, I wonder if it will even be enabled on iPhone X; it’s much less needed there due to the new navigation gestures. Either way, I’ll enjoy seeing it return to the iPhone 7 I use for work.

One other thing they need to bring back is quick access to Spotlight Search from Notification Center. I’m not talking about the existing one in the Today/widgets view, but the one where you could pull the Notification Center shade down just a little bit, release, and get to Spotlight Search. I used this so much to quickly get into another app.

Apple Watch Series 3 reviews are in from around the web. While largely positive, an embarrassing bug affecting the Watch’s data connection has been discovered and acknowledged by Apple. I know I’ve been saying Apple Watch Series 3 could be the ‘iPhone 4’ of its line, but I also wrote that I hope it would come without the controversy (antennagate). Oops. At least it didn’t get lost in a bar?

Let’s start with the reviews first.

Featured Reviews

John Gruber for Daring Fireball on Siri:

Siri sounds great on the watch, too: crisp and clear. The hardware performance improvements surely help here — the S3 dual core CPU is “up to 70 percent” faster, and the new W2 chip for wireless improves Wi-Fi performance “up to 85 percent”. (The W2 also makes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth more energy efficient, and, it seems obvious, is one of the reasons that cellular networking is possible at all.) The effect of these performance improvements isn’t that it makes Apple Watch Series 3 feel fast, but that it makes it feel not slow. When you dictate a text message to Siri and it just works, without delay, it just feels like it should.

I am SO excited about this. I try to use Siri as much as possible on my original Apple Watch, but it’s way too damn slow.

David Pierce for Wired on connection logistics:

If your phone’s nearby, your Watch connects to it through Bluetooth and uses the phone as a modem. If you’re away from your phone, it looks for Wi-Fi, and as a last resort, jumps on LTE. I never noticed a difference between LTE and Wi-Fi, and in a week of testing didn’t experience any issues switching around. Others had a much harder time, though, and Apple has fessed up to problems switching to unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity.” So proceed with caution.

This is exactly how I figured they’d do it, as discussed on Fatherboard Episode 002. The Watch only uses its built-in LTE radio when there is no other option. This makes sense to conserve battery life, but as is being discovered, Apple bungled a distinct aspect of connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Brian Chen for The New York Times on how the Apple Watch is coming into its own:

Although I think most people can skip buying the cellular model, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the first smart watch I can confidently recommend that people buy. While I don’t personally find it attractive enough to replace my wristwatch, the new Apple Watch is a well-designed, durable and easy-to-use fitness tracker for people who want analytics on their workouts and general health (R.I.P., Fitbit).

Important features like the stopwatch, calendar and Siri work quickly and reliably. And unlike its predecessors, the watch has impressive battery life — on average, I had more than 40 percent battery remaining after a full day of use.

So the final verdict? The Apple Watch Series 3 is the first sign that wearable computers are maturing and may eventually become a staple in consumer electronics.

Wi-Fi Bug

Lauren Goode for The Verge on her extreme connection issues:

Where do I start with the connectivity issues with this Watch? It became apparent after my first full day using the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE that something wasn’t right. My review Watch was paired with an iPhone 8 and was on an AT&T wireless plan. In one of my initial tests, I went for a walk with the phone on airplane mode, and tried to send text messages and use Siri to initiate phone calls through the Watch. Those didn’t work. I tried asking Siri basic questions. That didn’t work. Siri also wasn’t “talking back” to me, something that’s supposed to be a new feature on the Series 3 Watch.

Sadly, Lauren experienced so many issues that she couldn’t even experience the Watch’s full potential. While most reviewers didn’t experience the issue described by Lauren, Serenity Caldwell may have figured out the underlying cause.

Serenity Caldwell for iMore:

Essentially, the Series 3 GPS + Cellular watch tries to save battery life at all times by using your iPhone’s connection, or failing that, a Wi-Fi network. What’s happening here is that the watch is attempting to jump on a so-called “captive” network — a public network with an interstitial login prompt or terms and conditions agreement. (You’ve probably seen these at a Starbucks, McDonalds, or Panera.)

In theory, the Apple Watch shouldn’t be allowed to connect to captive networks at all, because there’s no way for it to get through that interstitial layer. Unfortunately, watchOS 4 has a bug where captive networks are being recognized identically to normal saved Wi-Fi networks — so while you’re technically “connected” to a network, you won’t be able to connect to the internet; nor will you be able to go to cellular, because the Watch’s auto-switching prevents you from connecting.

This makes perfect sense, and I would hope it’s really a bug versus Apple not taking captive portals into account at all. Either way, it’s incredibly sloppy. I would expect this kind of launch bug from Samsung or others, but not Apple.

Apple has promised a fix in ‘a future update’, but that doesn’t sound nearly urgent enough. I hope they can fix the bug accurately for release this Friday, or a ton of people may be in for a surprise. Come to think of it, a lot of Apple Stores are in malls, usually surrounded by a few captive portals…

Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch interviewed Craig in regards to the many questions surrounding Face ID since its introduction on Tuesday. There’s a lot of great content in the article, but here’s a few excerpts:

On privacy and security:

When it comes to customers — users — Apple gathers absolutely nothing itself. Federighi was very explicit on this point.

“We do not gather customer data when you enroll in Face ID, it stays on your device, we do not send it to the cloud for training data,” he notes.

On accessing face data/providing it to law enforcement:

The simple answer, which is identical to the answer for Touch ID, by the way, is that Apple does not even have a way to give it to law enforcement. Apple never takes possession of the data, anonymized or otherwise. When you train the data it gets immediately stored in the Secure Enclave as a mathematical model that cannot be reverse-engineered back into a “model of a face.” Any re-training also happens there. It’s on your device, in your SE, period.

I’ll say it again: Apple is the privacy and security tech company because we are not the product.

How to temporarily disable Face ID:

On older phones the sequence was to click 5 times [on the power button], but on newer phones like iPhone 8 and iPhone X, if you grip the side buttons on either side and hold them a little while — we’ll take you to the power down [screen]. But that also has the effect of disabling Face ID,” says Federighi.

Matt on the reliance of Face ID:

Everyone I’ve spoken to who has been in a position to be using it for weeks or months says it’s incredibly reliable no matter the light level. The combination of using the RGB camera and the IR emitter plus the dot projector covers a wide array of scenarios that allow it to be very reliable and very fast.

If you lift your phone and swipe up immediately, there’s a good chance that the Face ID system will have performed its authentication fast enough to have unlocked your device by the time you finish your swipe. That’s how fast it is.

This is a bit of an aside, but I’d also like to point out here that Face ID emits no visible light. I’ve seen some misconceptions on social media that it’s going to be shining a light at your face. Nope. It uses only infrared and existing light, which means it will work in darkness without any more light than is coming off of the phone’s screen.

This was surprising to me, that people really thought it was going to shine a visible light.

I feel confident Face ID will work well. Apple wouldn’t ship it if it didn’t. It’s also clear this will eventually replace Touch ID for every applicable Apple product — and this is only generation one of the feature. Can you imagine how much better it’s going to get over the coming years? I could even see a path for it to be in a future Apple TV (for authenticating purchases and whatnot). This is only the beginning of how our computers will start to know us and our intent. Exciting times.

Welcome to Key Notes, where I highlight all the stuff that catches my attention after an Apple keynote.

Apple announced a good helping of stuff today, most of which was confirmed over the weekend by the unexpected leak of the iOS 11 Golden Master for iPhone X. Apple didn’t let that stop the magic, though, juxtaposing a mood that ranged from somber to excitement.

Key Notes for September 12, 2017

Steve Jobs Dedication

  • Tasteful, somber, and heartwarming all at the same time. This was the best introduction to a keynote Apple has ever had. Tim Cook nailed the speech.

Retail

  • Angela Ahrendts took the stage to talk about Apple Stores being referred to as town squares. It’s a narrative they’ve pushed before, but it’s coming across a little forced. Apple Stores are usually always at capacity. People will stumble across all the Apple Today stuff by happenstance.

Apple Watch Series 3

  • Cellular is an obvious progression. Obviously Apple would ensure battery life wouldn’t be an issue.
  • Streaming music directly from the Watch is going to be badass. Makes the Watch essentially an LTE iPod.
  • Phone calls are in and your number is shared with your phone. Glad Ming-Chi Kuo got this one wrong.
  • I love the red dot on the crown, and red/grey are my favorite color (bet you couldn’t tell). However, it makes me wonder if all future LTE models will have have a red-dot crown? I think eventually it’s possible all Apple Watch models will just come with LTE. Definitely a curious design choice, nonetheless. It’s almost as if Apple decided they needed a way to differentiate the product since the casing is the same.
  • Apple says it has an ‘upgraded’ dual-core processor, which is short of saying it’s a whole new SOC. Sounds like a small speed bump, which could be OK.
  • I want the Ceramic Grey Edition model so bad.
  • I wonder how fast apps that use LTE will respond.

Apple TV 4K HDR

  • Logical upgrades. UI will definitely benefit in terms of responsiveness from the A10X chip.
  • Finally, the Apple TV will have a Gigabit Ethernet connection, although the fourth generation still ships with an inexcusable 10/100 jack.
  • Can’t believe they didn’t redesign the Siri remote’s button layout.

All three new iPhones

  • We’re back to the glass sandwich design, just like the iPhone 4. This is a natural evolution of the iPhone 6 design to accommodate “wireless” charging (read: Qi charging). Hopefully the stronger glass holds up better to falls unlike the iPhone 4. The stronger glass is most likely the reason Qi charging took them so long.
  • True Tone display makes it to the iPhone. Very nice. After using it on my iPad Pro 10.5-inch for a few months, I can say I much prefer it to my iPhone 7’s screen.
  • Black, Jet Black, and Rose Gold finishes are no more. Kind of perplexing, especially for the iPhone 8. Rose Gold has been a huge hit.
  • Portrait Mode selfies and Portrait Lighting are great. No longer need another person to take a great Portrait Mode picture of yourself.
  • 4K 60fps video recording is insane for a phone.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

  • It seems pretty clear this form factor will remain until such a time when iPhone X’s design is more affordable/possible to produce in mass quantities.
  • 25% louder stereo speakers is a nice little addition.
  • Poor iPhone 8 was immediately overshadowed by…

iPhone X

  • Why, oh, why are they pronouncing it “ten”??? I was wrong about this one. So many people will still call it iPhone “ex”, anyway. What happens in two years when we have ‘iPhone 10’?
  • Dat screen. Can’t wait to see this thing in person. They did, indeed embrace the notch. The clip of Spider-Man they played looked odd with the video playing above/below the notch. No Pro Motion (120Hz) refresh rate, though. Wondering if it will cheapen the experience any.
  • Face ID is futuristic and way more than just a backup plan for Touch ID. I also accurately predicted much of how it will work. It’s hilarious how many folks apparently thought Apple would just do basic image comparison to identify your face.
  • The iPhone line now has glaring UX differences for everyday actions (unlocking, going home, switching apps, etc.). I think Apple framed it well in the sense that this is what all iPhones will be like in the years to come. Maybe implementing these changes on the entire line in one fell swoop would be too drastic.
  • On a similar note, Apple didn’t completely do away with a home indicator, but I really like the move to gestural navigation. Getting into the App Switcher looks like a replacement for the 3D Touch left-edge gesture that was removed in iOS 11. Only sad thing is the iPhone 8 and below won’t have it, but Apple must have felt it crucial to not further complicate the UX across the entire line.
  • I’m surprised there weren’t any features on the lock screen that only turn on part of the display to take advantage of OLED.
  • Animoji look like hilarious fun. I’m stunned how well the mouth tracking worked in Craig’s demo.
  • The A11 Bionic chip is fucking insane (both the specs and branding). That is to say, branding it as ‘Bionic’ is just strange.
  • Apple is now making its own GPUs. Game changer.
  • Not much focus on real AR, which I thought was a glaring omission.
  • AppleCare+ will be a whopping $200 by itself.

Other

  • AirPower mat to charge iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods is something I need in my life. Too bad it’s not coming until next year.
  • I wonder how much the new AirPods inductive charging case is going to cost.
  • No mention of HomePod was a surprise. Possible October event to announce availability along with iMac Pro?

Podcast

  • Stay tuned for a new episode of Gaddgict’s podcast, Fatherboard coming later tonight! My Dad and I are going to discuss all this and more.