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    How the technology behind Apple's Touch ID will likely change with 'iPhone 8'

    By Caiden,

    There's a lot of talk about Apple's shift to a new screen technology with the "iPhone 8," but fewer conversations about how it will all work — AppleInsider explains what changes Apple will likely need to make to implement the technology, while retaining Touch ID on the front of the rumored edge-to-edge screen on the device.
    A rumored shift to an OLED screen in the "iPhone 8" changes the game — not just for battery life, but for related technologies. Apple has had a great deal of success with the best-in-class fingerprint reader technology that it has used since the iPhone 5s, but unless it's moved to the back of the phone, the underlying sensing technology needs to change.

    As it stands with the iPhone 5s through the iPhone 7, the Touch ID technology developed by AuthenTec senses the presence of a finger with a detection ring which switches on the sensor when it detects a digit. The sensor itself is clad in a thin sapphire crystal, and uses a complimentary metal oxide semiconductor capacitive touch sensor to detect the fingerprint's whorls and ridges with 500 pixels per inch resolution. 

    The captured fingerprint is then passed to the Secure Enclave and compared to stored data local to the phone. Should the mathematical models match, the phone is unlocked.

    There are two major revisions of Touch ID, with the only real difference being sensing speed in more recent version on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 families.
    So where's the problem?

    The problem lies with the difference in thickness between the sapphire lens and the sensor. The sensor itself is 170 microns thick, with the sapphire lens not that much thicker. 

    While an OLED screen assembly is thinner than that of a comparative LCD display, the glass cover is about the same thickness between the technologies. At just less than 1 millimeter thick, the screen glass is over five times the thickness of the sapphire lens on the existing Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 7.

    With fingerprint sensors used in Touch ID, as separation between the contact surface where a user places their finger and the capacitive sensing array increases, there is a corresponding blurring of the finger's electric field captured by the Touch ID sensor. In the existing Touch ID implementation, the lens is sufficiently thin that any distortion, or aberration, is minimal.

    When a sensor is placed behind a thicker lens, in the case of the "iPhone 8," behind the screen glass itself, the inevitable blurring without some form of correction can lead to degraded fingerprint image resolutions and decreased recognition accuracy. 
    Math can be used to determine exactly how much distortion would be introduced with thicker glass — but it is extremely complex and to figure it out precisely would require more data about the optics of the sapphire Touch ID cover than is currently known. However, roughly speaking, the aberrations induced between Touch ID now, and if it was embedded behind much thicker screen glass would increase between 5 and 15 times what is expected now.

    If Apple compensated in software for that and allowed for more fingerprint variation between what is stored and what is sensed, it would make Touch ID much less secure. This would likely be unsatisfactory for the banking industry, and would impact Apple Pay.

    However, Apple has a patent for a touch sensor using an array of electrostatic lenses. By using the lenses in between a designated touch area and the sensor behind the thicker glass, the electric field associated with a user's finger can be presented undistorted — or less distorted — to a sensor embedded in the glass. 

    Apple Maps adds public bike rental stations & UK EV charger networks

    By Caiden,

    Apple on Wednesday updated Apple Maps with new data on EV charging stations and bicycle rental/dropoff points, focusing most of its expanded coverage in Europe.
    In the U.K., electric car drivers can now find charging thanks to data from Moovility, a service from Germany's Cirrantic, Bloomberg said. The public bicycle information currently covers London and Paris, and one U.S. city, New York.

    Apple first began identifying EV chargers in Maps in July 2016, as a result of a deal with Parkopedia. That improved further with the addition of ChargePoint stations in December.

    Bike rental data is a new field for Apple, and the company will have to work hard to catch up with Google Maps, which has pickup and dropoff points listed in several countries. 

    Apple stripped Google content from its Maps app with the 2012 release of iOS 6. That initially created serious problems, since replacement data —pulled from various third-party sources —was not only sparse but sometimes dangerously inaccurate, and moreover lacking in features people had become accustomed to, such as public transit directions.

    Since then Apple has worked to rebuild and enhance Maps as much as possible, most significantly restoring transit directions with 2015's iOS 9.

    Future enhancements may include indoor mapping and better car navigation, as well as more regular content updates thanks to drones.

    Google Maps adds Timeline support on Apple's iPhone & iPad

    By Caiden,

    Google on Tuesday announced another update to the iOS version of Google Maps, bringing support for a Timeline feature previously limited to Web and Android users.
    On iOS the option can be accessed from the app's main menu, or else from the place cards of previously-visited destinations. Stops are arranged in linear order, including details like distances traveled and the transportation used. Users can edit locations and activities to be more precise, for instance specifying that they were cycling, hiking, or kayaking.

    Users can optionally receive monthly summary emails, and place cards will now include the dates of past visits. 

    Google suggested that the Timeline can be useful for remembering discoveries, or figuring out when a particular errand was done.

    To address privacy concerns, the feature lets people delete single or multiple days, or else wipe their entire history.

    The iOS Timeline is rolling out beginning today, but may not be immediately accessible to all users. On Monday Google updated Maps with an iOS Directions widget, as well as location-sharing in Messages.

    Snapchat for iPhone gains 3D, augmented reality 'World Lenses'

    By Caiden,

    The iPhone version of Snapchat on Tuesday updated with a feature called World Lenses, making more advanced use of the augmented reality technology Snap has experimented with for over a year.

    World Lenses insert 3D assets into photos, mapping graphical objects and text to their surrounding environment. As a result users can walk around them, allowing on-the-fly perspective changes.

    In a promotional video, some sample objects were presented including clouds, rainbows, and stylized text. One World Lens can actually "plant" flowers as a person walks around.
    Until now, Lenses have typically been linked to people, enabling things like masks or face swaps. The new ones can be found by tapping on the camera screen when using the app's rear-facing camera.

    On Tuesday, Snapchat's chief rival Facebook simultaneously announced plans to push further into augmented reality through its Stories mobile feature. The company has in fact faced criticism for copying Snapchat, which originated the Stories name and concept, and the same sort of AR enhancements Facebook is expanding upon.

    Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 to feature dual camera array ala iPhone 7 Plus

    By Caiden,

    Looking to recover from last year's exploding Note 7 fiasco, Samsung is expected to launch its first ever dual camera handset in the Note 8 later this year, according to a report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. 
    In a note to investors released on Tuesday, and obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo said the iPhone 7 Plus inspired dual camera system will be the most important new feature for Samsung's Note 8. 

    While other smartphone manufacturers have in the past included two or more shooters in their respective high-end offerings, Apple's dual lens solution in iPhone 7 Plus garnered industry praise for its seamless integration and ability to achieve stunning images with relative ease. 

    Of note, iPhone 7 Plus introduced users to Portrait Mode. Built into Apple's first-party camera app, the feature leverages both wide angle and "telephoto" lenses, complex computer vision algorithms and depth mapping technology to naturally blur image backgrounds while keeping the subject in sharp focus. Officially considered beta software, the artificial depth of field effect is meant to mimic high-end DSLRs. 

    Whether Samsung intends to build similar functionality into its forthcoming phablet is unknown, but the hardware is expected to sport a 12-megapixel wide-angle CIS with dual photodiode technology, a 13-megapixel telephoto CIS and 3x optical zoom. Both sensor stacks will be backed by optical image stabilization and topped with six-element plastic lenses. 

    Kuo believes Samsung's camera package will be "much better" than the dual camera array found on iPhone 7 Plus, and could potentially match the performance of Apple's rumored "iPhone 8."

    The Note 8 is also expected to include a 6.4-inch QHD+ OLED display with full-screen design, a Exynos 9 series (8895) processor and iris recognition. 

    Samsung was thought to be looking into Synaptics' optical fingerprint recognition solution for the Note 8, which would have allowed the company to build a reader directly into the front-facing display. As the technology remains immature, however, the firm has decided to integrate a standard fingerprint sensor into the handset's rear casing, much like the recently released Galaxy S8, Kuo says. 

    The analyst believes Samsung's full-screen design and back-mounted fingerprint sensor design will become mainstream form factor for high-end smartphones.

    In a separate note released last week, Kuo reports market response to Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ has been better than expected. The analyst initially issued a conservative assessment due to the handset's cumbersome fingerprint module placement, but consumer response to the large full-face "Infinity Screen" exceeded expectations. 

    For fiscal 2017, Kuo estimates Galaxy S8 series shipments at 50 to 55 million, and the Note 8 at 13 to 15 million units.

    JQBX: Discover, Listen & Share Music with Friends on Spotify

    By Oirad20,

    A few days ago I decided to search around the web for an alternative to now dead project Turntable.fm. As a huge music fan, I would find myself spending hours on Turntable.fm discovering new music played by others while we would chat about any favorite artists, song, genres, etc. There was this cool feeling of sharing those songs you like with others and expect some positive feedback and praise from your music taste. Unfortunately, Turntable.fm faced many licensing issues that lead to it's demise, but for those of us looking for an alternative on synchronized online music-listening rooms there is a new, solid project (that also comes with a catch).
    I came across JQBX which is currently available for iPhone and Mac (Windows and Android coming soon). The app gives Spotify Premium users the ability to enter music rooms and share from single tracks to complete playlists with others. Any track played on the room can be added to your Spotify playlist with complete sync between the two apps thus giving users more options than Turntable.fm ever did. 
    This app is relatively new and the developers are still ironing a few details as well as gathering user feedback to add new features but it is certainly heading in the right direction. Future Soundcloud and Apple Music integration is something that the developers are considering as well.
    If you have a Spotify Premium account and like sharing your music tastes or discovering others then give JQBX a try.

    Apple is exploring a bunch of AR features for the next iPhone, says Bloomberg

    By Oirad20,

    We’ve been hearing a lot about Apple’s ambitions with augmented reality, and a new reportfrom Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman adds to the intrigue. As similar stories have said in the past, Apple is reportedly working on AR glasses (which won’t be ready for a while) and plans to put augmented reality features in the next iPhone. It’s got “hundreds of engineers” working on the tech, says Gurman, including individuals poached from Microsoft’s HoloLens team and Facebook-owned Oculus. Here’s Gurman on what the first iPhone AR tools might look like:
    One of the features Apple is exploring is the ability to take a picture and then change the depth of the photograph or the depth of specific objects in the picture later; another would isolate an object in the image, such as a person's head, and allow it to be tilted 180 degrees. A different feature in development would use augmented reality to place virtual effects and objects on a person, much the way Snapchat works.
    This certainly fits with reports from other sources. Last month, the reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that this year’s iPhone would have a “revolutionary” camera augmented with an infrared projector and receiver. This would offer capabilities similar to the Kinect peripheral Microsoft made for the Xbox, including depth sensing and 3D mapping.
    Augmented reality hasn’t been subject to the same buzz as virtual reality, but arguably, that’s because it’s more practical. It doesn’t immerse you in virtual worlds for entertainment purposes, but adds useful information to your line of sight — anything from navigational cues to mechanical labels. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said on a number of occasions he thinks AR will be bigger than VR. However, if this latest Bloomberg report is anything go by, the first AR features in Apple products will be pretty simple.
    [Via The Verge]

    We are now HIRING!

    By Caiden,

    We are now hiring 2017.
    Staff Writers
    In the past we have not had a dedicated team, we truly can make this place massive. If we have the community and staff... we have the numbers, we just need the continuity.
    Please PM me or write on this post.

    Google adds Safari-like 'Reading List' feature to Chrome for iOS

    By Caiden,

    Google on Tuesday updated its Chrome browser for iOS with the "Reading List," a feature mimicking an identically-named counterpart in Apple's Safari.

    In Chrome the option can be found by tapping the Share button, and then a "Read Later" icon towards the bottom of the share sheet. Saved pages can be opened later by tapping the triple-dot menu and then on "Reading List," next to which should be a badge with the number of unread items.

    Users can tap "Edit" within the List to mark some or all items as read, or else delete them.

    Like Safari, pages saved in Chrome are available offline, making the feature handy for travel or simply coping with bandwidth caps.

    One difference with Safari is that Chrome's Reading List isn't available on desktops and laptops. An article saved in Safari for iOS can appear on macOS, or vice versa.

    Unlike Safari, Chrome separates read and unread items into different sections, making it easier to find something new to look at.

    Chrome for iOS is a free download, and runs on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 9 or later.

    Apple seeds fifth developer beta of macOS 10.12.4 with Night Shift

    By Caiden,

    Apple on Tuesday issued a fifth beta of macOS 10.12.4 to developers, bringing the software update one step closer to a public release.
    The new code should be available through Apple's official developer portal, or else through the Mac App Store's Updates tab for people already in line for beta distributions. A public seed could potentially follow within the next few days.

    It's not yet clear what changes are in the fifth beta, but the main addition in macOS 10.12.4 should be Night Shift, a carryover of a feature first introduced to iPhones and iPads with iOS 9.3. As on those devices, Night Shift for Mac gradually warms color temperatures to reduce exposure to blue light, which can potentially help people get to sleep more easily.
    The update also expands dictation support to more languages, adds better PDFKit APIs, and enables cricket scores in Siri. Other focus areas include iCloud Analytics, and standard bugfixes and performance tweaks.

    It's not clear when the finished version of 10.12.4 will be available, but the first beta appeared in late January. If Apple follows its typical rollout schedule, there's unlikely to be more than one or two additional beta seeds.

    The update may be the last —or next to last —before Apple unveils macOS 10.13 at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

    Florida pro soccer team's new iOS app cuts out ticket middlemen

    By Caiden,

    Developed by mobile platform firm FanHero, Orlando City SC's LionNation app acts as a digital hub for the club's membership program. 

    Similar to other live event apps, LionNation offers users the usual assortment of ticket management features, including purchasing and in-stadium pass presentation. The OCSC goes further by providing in-app direct to customer merchandise and ticket sales, saving buyers money normally associated with third party ticketing services. 

    "It seems archaic that an organization should miss out on thousands of dollars of revenue to sell their own products - we believe this technology is the future of 'hero' to 'fan' sales," said Christopher Cooper, co-founder of FanHero.

    Available to members and non-members, LionNation will be the preferred method of entry into Orlando City Stadium as the venue transitions to a paperless ticketing process. When the Major League Soccer season kicks off in March, single-game ticket holders will need to present an in-app pass for entry into the stadium. Season-ticket holders can use either the app or their physical membership card.

    Fans can also buy digital tickets for friends and family, as well as resell passes purchased within the app.

    In addition to ticketing, the new app offers live coverage of team practices, player interviews, exclusive photos, commentary, team news, stats, a chat module and more. 

    The LionNation app is a free download from the iOS app store.

    Apple issues fourth beta of tvOS 10.2 for developers with accelerated scrolling, VideoToolbox

    By Caiden,

    Apple on Tuesday released a fourth developer beta of tvOS 10.2, an update for the fourth-generation Apple TV that should mostly add minor feature enhancements.
    To install the new code, developers must connect an Apple TV to a computer via a USB cable, and download and install the beta using iTunes or Apple Configurator. People must, of course, have an official developer account.

    While it's unclear what's changed in the latest beta, 10.2 as a whole is due to add things like accelerated scrolling, support for the Device Enrollment Program, and wider mobile device management (MDM) options, according to Apple notes. 

    It will also implement support for the VideoToolbox framework, which lets people tap directly into hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding functions. The framework is already present in iOS and macOS.

    The previous 10.2 beta was released a little over a week ago on Feb. 20.

    The last major update of tvOS came with December's 10.1 release, which introduced single sign-on support for TV providers and a dedicated "TV" app. The latter centralizes content from iTunes and some third-party apps, making it easier to keep up with shows.