"> Apples Archives - Engr Kabir Saleh

Posts Tagged

Apples

How the Xnor.ai purchase opens Apple’s AI future

Apple’s $200 million acquisition of Xnor.ai provides tools for evolution in imaging, edge-based AI, HomeKit and more.

What does Xnor.ai do?

Xnor.ai was spun out of the Allen Institute for AI by Professor Ali Farhadi and Dr. Mohammed Rastegari in 2017. These men were also responsible for YOLO, YOLO9000, Label Refinery and other machine intelligence achievements.

The company developed machine learning and image recognition models that combined accuracy with the ability to work locally on the device, rather than sending those images to a server.

One client, Wyze Labs, used the tech for person detection in CCTV videos, though that feature was withdrawn earlier this month, before news of Apple’s purchase broke.

Xnor.ai was more ambitious than on-device image recognition. Its website states:

“Transform your business with on-device AI.”

On YouTube, a video is still available that explains its aims, including AI on smart home devices, on cameras and on agricultural drones. The intention seems to be to create self-learning AI that works on the device and does so without need of an internet connection.

In other words: no cloud required.

Independent self-learning devices

“We’re building a future where AI is available on almost every device,” The Xnor.ai voice over claims. “We call this AI Everywhere, for Everyone. And it’s the beginning of something truly transformational that will reshape how we work, live and play.”

Within this work, the company developed a solution called AI2GO, a self-serve platform to easily deploy advanced deep learning models onto edge devices.

(You can still watch an interesting account of what this does here.)

It is also important to note that the company has previously demonstrated an AI chip that used so little energy it could run off solar power.

There is an obvious symmetry between the two company’s visions: Xnor.ai’s AI models that can be installed on edge devices and Apple’s strategy to invest its devices with on-board intelligence that don’t need cloud servers.

The notion also fits current trends. Edge-based intelligence is seen as a bastion against the privacy and security risks of cloud-based systems – particularly in industrial deployments.

You’ll already find Apple working with models like this in Photos, which identifies faces, places and things in your images with analysis on your device. It may be possible that Xnor.Ai’s tech may help the company further reduce the quantity of information it needs to gather in order to make services work.

A stepping stone to homeOS?

Where things become more interesting is around smart home devices.

We already know that Apple is looking a little more deeply at HomeKit. It set the scene at WWDC 2019 with HomeKit Secured Routers and support for CCTV systems. It reprised the commitment in 2020 at CES.

The problem with most smart home devices is that they are dumb. They may have sensors, but they are centrally controlled by mobile devices, hubs and the like. They are controlled devices that lack on-board intelligence.

Xnor.ai changes that.

A lot of its work focused on enhancing Raspberry Pi with on-device AI. Huge quantities of processing power aren’t required. This makes it feasible to imagine these technologies being used to help Apple carve out some form of homeOS platform upon which developers can build self-learning (yet still affordable) smart home devices. Or even for industrial IoT deployments.

(While industrial tech has never been a prime market for Apple, things have changed, and its devices are now in use across the enterprise. Why wouldn’t it want strategic positions in some industrial verticals?)

Combine such devices with low power local IP-based networking and you end up with self-learning systems that are smart, but not online. They’re smart, upgradeable and inherently secure because intelligence takes place at the edge.

Don’t get too excited – yet

Apple’s platform-wide implementation of the newly acquired tech will take time. In the near term, it makes sense to see slightly more prosaic improvements, such as easier AI model updates, smarter person and object identification in Photos and smart object recognition in ARKit.

Another place where Apple may be able to make a difference is in CCTV video, improving playback and person recognition systems in these.

Wyze delivered this using Xnor.ai. Apple’s interest in HomeKit Secure Video and its focus on HomeKit, along with its work in video editing, machine intelligence and recognition systems makes this a place in which it could make a difference.

Another possibility is that this tech could make it easier for third-party developers to create, install and upgrade their own AI models on Apple platforms – I can even imagine an AI Playgrounds solution (like Swift Playgrounds) to teach kids the principles of machine intelligence. “I just built a jellybean recognition system for my iPhone…”

But these things take time – Apple is only now rolling out the kind of Maps improvements it began working on in earnest in around 2016.

The road between “could happen” and “did happen” is long and full of stumbling blocks, and the company’s grand plan for the implementation of these technologies is not necessarily linear or obvious. But the implications of the newly-acquired tech could extend across Apple’s product and software lines.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s ‘Pro Mode’ is made for Mac professionals

Apple’s focus on the needs of professional computer users for its Macs and iPads ‘for the rest of us’ continues on news the company is developing a new ‘Pro Mode’ that pushes more performance for some apps.

The PC market will become a high-end market

Apple is focused on pro users because it recognizes that this section of the PC market will be the bulwark against wholesale replacement of computers with mobile devices.

Year by year, mobile systems are becoming increasingly viable alternatives for a growing quantity of the tasks PCs and Macs have traditionally handled.

An iPhone or iPad is all the computer required by many users, as the billion or so iOS devices currently in use prove.

This leaves a shrinking space for low-cost budget PCs and suggests the most robust part of the market is to be found in high-end systems.

That appears to be what Apple is betting on as it prioritizes Mac revenue growth – and this is also why the number of Mac units sold is less relevant than before, given so many PCs are replaced by mobile devices, or even low cost, low profit PCs.

It’s about how many Macs are sold into the more robust and less subject to mobile device replacement professional markets.

Apple’s pro Mac offerings are designed for those markets that are most resistant to replacement by mobile devices: music and movie/video production; games and interactive experience development; professional photography; architecture and design; scientific research and so on.

Such users will benefit from Apple’s purported Pro Mode, as they will be able to accelerate application performance for the tasks that most matter to them.

What is Pro Mode?

Pro Mode sounds a little like an on-demand overclocking technology.

As reported by 9to5Mac, a reference to it is included in the latest macOS Catalina 10.15.3 beta and it is described as something that can be turned on or off on demand by users.

The beta tells us that when in ProMode:

“Apps may run faster, but battery life may decrease and fan noise may increase.”

The beta seems to suggest that fan speed (and Pro Mode) will remain active overnight if not manually switched off.

The latter makes sense in some instances, such as when leaving your Mac to handle challenging rendering tasks overnight.

The report suggests the mode is aimed particularly at MacBook Pro users, citing improvements in the thermal design in the latest devices.

Effectively, the description seems to show systems that can optimize system performance in order to rouse more power and performance from specific apps, but does so on an ad hoc basis, enabling users to pick when to fully exploit the potential. (ie. When the system is connected to power).

Apple’s pro app teams

There has long been demand among Mac users for ways to safely optimize the power and performance of Macs beyond the box spec. At one time, the Mac market included companies (such as the still active Sonnet)whose sole focus was to make components that could boost Mac performance – effectively upgrading existing Macs.

Many Mac users may also have made use of software overclock tools designed to push system performance beyond official specifications.

The problem with such tools being that in some cases this made systems unstable or may even have caused damage, as the heat generated by overclocked systems exceeded the ability of the Mac’s thermal systems to maintain safe temperatures.

(A long time ago, I witnessed people point desk fans at overclocked Macs in an attempt to prevent them automatically shutting down when they get too hot).

Apple has teams of Mac users it works with in order to understand what its professional users need, and this on the ground knowledge now informs decisions it takes when designing new Macs.

This is particularly evident in the new (modular) Mac Pro.

With this in mind it seems quite possible that Apple is developing Pro Mode in answer to requests from those high-end users it works with, who sought some way in which to safely maximize Mac performance for specific high-end tasks.

It will be interesting to see how Apple positions this new software feature (if it ever ships), particularly in light of the new MacBook Pro models it is expected to introduce this year.

It will also be interesting to see if the company includes this capacity within the Mac mini, which is seeing use in pro markets for some demanding tasks.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s ‘Pro Mode’ is made for Mac professionals

Apple’s focus on the needs of professional computer users for its Macs and iPads ‘for the rest of us’ continues on news the company is developing a new ‘Pro Mode’ that pushes more performance for some apps.

The PC market will become a high-end market

Apple is focused on pro users because it recognizes that this section of the PC market will be the bulwark against wholesale replacement of computers with mobile devices.

Year by year, mobile systems are becoming increasingly viable alternatives for a growing quantity of the tasks PCs and Macs have traditionally handled.

An iPhone or iPad is all the computer required by many users, as the billion or so iOS devices currently in use prove.

This leaves a shrinking space for low-cost budget PCs and suggests the most robust part of the market is to be found in high-end systems.

That appears to be what Apple is betting on as it prioritizes Mac revenue growth – and this is also why the number of Mac units sold is less relevant than before, given so many PCs are replaced by mobile devices, or even low cost, low profit PCs.

It’s about how many Macs are sold into the more robust and less subject to mobile device replacement professional markets.

Apple’s pro Mac offerings are designed for those markets that are most resistant to replacement by mobile devices: music and movie/video production; games and interactive experience development; professional photography; architecture and design; scientific research and so on.

Such users will benefit from Apple’s purported Pro Mode, as they will be able to accelerate application performance for the tasks that most matter to them.

What is Pro Mode?

Pro Mode sounds a little like an on-demand overclocking technology.

As reported by 9to5Mac, a reference to it is included in the latest macOS Catalina 10.15.3 beta and it is described as something that can be turned on or off on demand by users.

The beta tells us that when in ProMode:

“Apps may run faster, but battery life may decrease and fan noise may increase.”

The beta seems to suggest that fan speed (and Pro Mode) will remain active overnight if not manually switched off.

The latter makes sense in some instances, such as when leaving your Mac to handle challenging rendering tasks overnight.

The report suggests the mode is aimed particularly at MacBook Pro users, citing improvements in the thermal design in the latest devices.

Effectively, the description seems to show systems that can optimize system performance in order to rouse more power and performance from specific apps, but does so on an ad hoc basis, enabling users to pick when to fully exploit the potential. (ie. When the system is connected to power).

Apple’s pro app teams

There has long been demand among Mac users for ways to safely optimize the power and performance of Macs beyond the box spec. At one time, the Mac market included companies (such as the still active Sonnet)whose sole focus was to make components that could boost Mac performance – effectively upgrading existing Macs.

Many Mac users may also have made use of software overclock tools designed to push system performance beyond official specifications.

The problem with such tools being that in some cases this made systems unstable or may even have caused damage, as the heat generated by overclocked systems exceeded the ability of the Mac’s thermal systems to maintain safe temperatures.

(A long time ago, I witnessed people point desk fans at overclocked Macs in an attempt to prevent them automatically shutting down when they get too hot).

Apple has teams of Mac users it works with in order to understand what its professional users need, and this on the ground knowledge now informs decisions it takes when designing new Macs.

This is particularly evident in the new (modular) Mac Pro.

With this in mind it seems quite possible that Apple is developing Pro Mode in answer to requests from those high-end users it works with, who sought some way in which to safely maximize Mac performance for specific high-end tasks.

It will be interesting to see how Apple positions this new software feature (if it ever ships), particularly in light of the new MacBook Pro models it is expected to introduce this year.

It will also be interesting to see if the company includes this capacity within the Mac mini, which is seeing use in pro markets for some demanding tasks.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s App Store generates $1B a week

On average, Apple generated more than $1 billion a week from the half-billion-plus people visiting its App Store every week in 2019, new data shows.

That’s $54.2 billion in the year.

Chasing the (long) tail

There’s lots of reasons for this, principally a successful push toward subscription-based business models and rapidly growing consumer acceptance that there actually is a value in digital products.

This renaissance in digital engagement is also generating new opportunity for enterprises who seek to meet customers where they are with digital-first experiences.

Subscription revenues increased in 2019, with more developers offering to let users try their apps before paying for the full feature set, according to SensorTower data. Growing subscription revenues prove shoppers will pay monthly fees for apps.

Nurturing this kind of perception has been one of the big challenges for the tech industry. In the early years, the success of Napster and file-sharing showed what can happen to industries when people don’t value digital product.

The later success of iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime and services like iCloud and Dropbox helped most users recognize digital value.

Now it’s generating massive money. User spending at the App Store climbed 16% year-over-year from $47 billion in 2018. Games accounted for a mighty $37 billion of this, while entertainment apps hoovered up $3.9 billion more.

We’re also seeing physical product sales become more deeply digital. 

“People are more connected today than ever before,” said Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product and platform at Adobe.

“We all have a smartphone in our pocket, and that is really what is driving the uptick in mobile commerce and e-commerce overall. You can literally think of something you need, and just purchase it right that second.

“This always-on and always connected trend will continue to accelerate, especially as the definition of mobility continues to expand to new devices and modes of accessing the Internet.”

Best in store

Apple recently announced that App Store developers had earned more than $155 billion in App Store sales since 2008. The company added that “over a quarter” of these sales came in the last year and confirmed customers spent $1.42 billion at the App Store between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 2019 — up 16%. The App Store store generated $386 million in sales on New Year’s Day 2020, Apple said – up slightly on the $322 million generated the same day last year.

The trend isn’t merely visible on Apple’s App Store; even Google Play also saw increased revenues – though the sum generated by iOS was 85% greater than the $29.3 billion spent on Google Play.

The digital value chain

This flurry of statistics proves perception of digital value is growing. (This is also proven by news that Pokemon Go generated nearly a billion dollars in revenue on in-game purchases alone last year.)

That is something that should matter to enterprise professionals attempting to identify and deliver new services and business models.

Consumer willingness to pay for digital services shows business models such as “information as a service,” expansion in digital channels and sponsorship of key digital experiences are more likely to build revenue, attract customers or enhance relationships than before.

In an intensifying competitive environment, delivering such services may be mandatory – and there may be some way to go, given Gartner’s analysis that 84% of consumers using digital tools and services in 2018 reported “underwhelming” experiences.

This matters.

  • 60% of enterprises that have engaged in digital transformation projects have also built new business models.
  • 78% of customers use mobile channels to communicate with brands.
  • 80% of millennials are more likely to purchase from companies that have a mobile customer services portal.

The attention economy isn’t at all stable. A better product or service can come along and quickly steal away hard-won hearts and minds. This has always been true in business, but the rapidity with which digital solutions can be developed and distributed means competition is rapid – and response must be more agile.

It’s an intense environment.

“By 2022, 72% of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology, such as machine-learning applications, chatbots or mobile messaging, up from 11% in 2017,” Gartner predicted in 2019.

It is interesting that Calm and Headspace became the biggest-grossing apps in the health and fitness category across both Apple and Android platforms in December.

Perhaps all those ‘digital first’ executives badly needed some time out as they grappled with the challenge of continued transformation?

Though on a more serious note, this also reflects consumer willingness to invest in a huge array of tech-driven services, even those we don’t usually associate with “digital.”

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s App Store generates a billion dollars a week

On average, Apple generated over a billion dollars a week from the half billion plus people visiting its App Store every week in 2019, the latest data shows.

That’s $54.2 billion in the year.

Chasing the (long) tail

There’s lots of reasons for this, principally a successful push toward subscription-based business models and rapidly growing consumer acceptance that there actually is a value in digital products.

This renaissance in digital engagement is also generating new opportunity for enterprises who seek to meet customers where they are with digital-first experiences.

Subscription revenues increased in 2019, with more developers offering to let users try their apps before paying out for the full feature set, according to SensorTower data. Growing subs revenues prove shoppers will pay monthly fees for apps.

Nurturing this kind of perception has been one of the big challenges for the tech industry. In the early years the success of Napster and file-sharing showed what can happen to industries when people don’t value digital product.

The success of iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime and services like iCloud and Dropbox helped most users recognize digital value.

Now it’s generating massive money.

User spending at the App Store climbed 16% y-o-y from $47 billion in 2018. Games accounted for a mighty $37 billion of this, while entertainment apps hoovered up $3.9 billion more.

We’re also seeing physical product sales become more deeply digital. 

“People are more connected today than ever before,” said Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product & platform at Adobe.

“We all have a smartphone in our pocket, and that is really what is driving the uptick in mobile commerce and e-commerce overall. You can literally think of something you need, and just purchase it right that second.

“This always-on and always connected trend will continue to accelerate, especially as the definition of mobility continues to expand to new devices and modes of accessing the Internet.”

Best in store

Apple recently announced that App Store developers earned over $155 billion in App Store sales since 2008.

The company added that “over a quarter” of these sales came in the last year and confirmed customers spent $1.42 billion at the App Store between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 2019 — up 16 percent. The App Store store generated $386 million in sales on New Year’s Day 2020, Apple said — up slightly on the $322 million generated the same day last year.

The trend isn’t merely visible on Apple’s App Store, even Google Play also saw increased revenues – despite which the sum generated by iOS was 85 percent greater than the $29.3 billion spent on Google Play.

The digital value chain

This flurry of statistics proves perception of digital value is growing. (This is also proven by news that Pokemon Go generated nearly a billion dollars in revenue on in-game purchases alone last year).

That is something that should matter to enterprise professionals attempting to identify and deliver new services and business models.

Consumer willingness to pay for digital services shows business models such as ‘information as a service’, expansion in digital channels and sponsorship of key digital experiences are more likely to build revenue, attract customers or enhance relationships than before.

In an intensifying competitive environment, delivering such services may be mandatory – and there may be some way to go, given Gartner’s analysis that 84 percent of consumers using digital tools and services in 2018 reported “underwhelming” experiences.

This matters.

  • 60% of enterprises that have engaged in digital transformation projects have also built new business models.
  • 78% of customers use mobile channels to communicate with brands.
  • 80% of millennials are more likely to purchase from companies that have a mobile customer services portal.

The attention economy isn’t at all stable. A better product or service can come along and quickly steal away hard-won hearts and minds. This has always been true in business, but the rapidity with which digital solutions can be developed and distributed means competition is rapid and response must be more agile.

It’s an intense environment.

“By 2022, 72 percent of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology, such as machine-learning applications, chatbots or mobile messaging, up from 11 percent in 2017,” predicted Gartner in 2019.

Within this it is interesting that Calm and Headspace became the biggest grossing apps in the health and fitness category across both Apple and Android platforms in December.

Perhaps all those ‘digital first’ executives badly needed some time out as they grappled with the challenge of continued transformation?

Though on a more serious note this also reflects consumer willingness to invest in a huge array of tech-driven services, even those we don’t usually associate with “digital”.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s chance to grow as half a billion Windows 7 PCs hit EOL

As Microsoft pulls support for near half a billion Windows 7 PCs, it’s make or break for Windows-based IT and Apple has a chance to reap good harvest here.

The great migration

Apple’s solutions are now in use across the entire Fortune 500.

The company’s enterprise credentials continue to extend. At a recent Apple-focused enterprise IT event, we encountered opinion and statistics to reinforce this point.

The point being that support for Apple technologies has become a human resources issue, and that people entering the workshop will choose to use that company’s technologies if they can.

This is prompting some of the world’s most influential enterprise firms to offer that choice to their employees.

Beyond HR considerations, IBM CIO Fletcher Previn points out multiple advantages Cupertino’s computers offer, not least in terms of net promoter score, user experience and the actual costs of management, upgrade and support.

“Now, I don’t know if better employees want Macs, or giving Macs to employees makes them better. You got to be careful about cause and effect — but there seems to be a lot of corroborating evidence that says you want to have a choice programme,” he said in November ’19.

The real enterprise IT

The positive upswell in support for Apple’s systems comes as around 417,000,000 Windows 7 devices (a big chunk of all Windows PCs currently in use worldwide) are about to experience Microsoft terminating support on January 14, 2020.

It’s a relatively safe assumption to think that at least some tens of thousands of these PCs could now be replaced by an iPad, or even a Mac.

Why wouldn’t some of these migrate to Apple’s platforms, when Microsoft’s fee-based extended support package costs up to $200 per device?

Apple’s Windows 7 replacement pitch

That’s a real opportunity for Apple, and gives the company a really deep chance to use the popularity of iPhones among enterprise users to pitch Mac sales in the new replacement drive.

It might not even need to try too hard to achieve this.

IBM has previously explained how running Macs is up to $543 per machine cheaper than running a Windows PC.

Add the cost of extended Windows 7 support to the likely cost savings of using a Mac; Factor in recruitment and staff retention costs and spice the sum with employee satisfaction, digital transformation and productivity benefits, and Apple has a good story to tell.

And a billion iPhone owners to tell it too.

It’s not as if the industry can’t see it coming

The analysts at IDC aren’t known to be Apple evangelists, but even they tell us enterprise IT decision makers expect to replace 13 percent of their current Windows 7 machines with Macs.

Now, 13 percent of all the Windows 7 devices out there equates to tens of millions of additional Mac sales in the coming 12-24 months, though the number of those systems deployed across the enterprise is likely considerably smaller.

All the same, it’s hard to ignore the potential for millions of additional Mac sales. Not to mention that those sales could snowball, particularly now Apple’s fixed the butterfly keyboard and got back to pressing for high user satisfaction levels.

Recent financial data suggests Apple is indeed experiencing such a Mac renaissance. 2019 saw what Apple CEO Tim Cook described as the, “Highest annual revenue ever from our Mac business.”

Mac sales revenues climbed 2 percent across 2019, despite PC market stagnation.

It’s a fairly good bet that more enterprise IT decision makers than ever are at least now considering offering Mac choice programs as they move to upgrade their existing Windows 7 installations.

Analysts will be (or should be) asking questions about Mac sales come Apple’s January 28 financial call to build some sense of how Apple is performing in the Windows replacement curve.

Up next:

I think it’s fair to assume that many of these Windows 7 machines will be replaced by Apple, but that replacement may achieve something even more profound.

Think back to the moment in 2003 when Steve Jobs announced “Hell had frozen over” and introduced Windows support to iPods.

The already popular device was selling hundreds of thousands at that time, but the introduction of Windows support pushed this to tens of millions within months.

Those happy iPod owners helped juice higher Mac sales, while also setting the scene for the release of the iPhone, which (arguably, depending on who you speak to) now dominates the mobile enterprise.

With half a billion Windows PCs to replace, how many Macs does Apple have to sell through for the industry to declare the platform a success? At what point will we see a ‘Mac halo’ emerge?

After all, as people use and share the benefits of the Macs they just got upgraded to, what chance is there that we’ll see a more profound move to replace PCs outside of Apple’s traditional markets?

Perhaps there’s even an opening for a high-end Mac for the games market?

It’s all to play for, with a third of the existing Windows market on the gaming table.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s wants privacy laws to protect its users

Your iPhone (like most smartphones) knows when it is picked up, what you do with it, who you call, where you go, who you know – and a bunch more personal information, too.

Information is power

The snag with your device knowing all this information is that once the data is understood than that information can be shared or even used against you.

Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director for global privacy, appeared at CES 2012 to discuss the company’s approach to smartphone security.

She stressed the company’s opposition to the creation of software backdoors into devices, and also said:

“Our phones are relatively small and they get lost and stolen. If we’re going to be able to rely on our health data and finance data on our devices, we need to make sure that if you misplace that device, you’re not losing your sensitive data.”

Privacy should not become a leaking bucket

Her approach is correct, of course. After all, once you create a security backdoor for one government, you’ll be forced to share them with every government.

Once this happens it’s only a matter of time before that information leaks into the hands of bad actors, with the result that no one’s data is safe.

Enterprise data will also become less safe, which threatens the security of connected infrastructure across the board.

Think of a security backdoor as being a hole in a bucket that only gets larger over time.

Eventually the bucket stops working, water gets everywhere and all your secrets slip.

How Apple sees things

Apple’s approach to security:

  1. It tries to minimize the amount of personal information it gathers about its users, and tries to disconnect that data it does gather from a person’s identity.
  2. It aims to create services that require minimal personal data while using on-device AI to personalize user experiences – that way the data is never seen or used by the company. Differential privacy, CoreML, and sending Siri and Maps requests assigned to a random number rather than using a person’s Apple ID form part of this attempt.
  3. It offers iCloud as a secured space in which customers can store their documents, images and other information.
  4. It attempts to empower users with tools with which to control their privacy.

What’s important to understand with this model is that while much of the information your device gathers is protected (unless you grant permission to specific apps to access it), data held in iCloud is not subject to the same protection and can be made available subject to warrant.

At the same time, Apple’s privacy protections can be confusing – it’s recent decision to make it possible for people to opt out of sharing Siri recordings for ‘grading’ was welcome, but the tools are still rather opaque.

iCloud thinks different

This is why Apple has teams whose job it is to help law enforcement with criminal/security queries.

The information on your device is impossible to access, while data held in your iCloud is accessible once a warrant is presented and agreed.

Not only can a great deal of information concerning location also be gathered by request from cellular providers, but some of the most incriminating information is almost certainly available in the less-secured iCloud account.

Horvath referred to this during her CES 2020 appearance when she confirmed the company uses a set of tools to scan iCloud Photo libraries for child pornography.

To me it seems reasonable to assume that those aren’t the only egregious acts Apple might monitor accounts for. That Apple actively already works to protect the public rather undermines the argument that even more access to personal data is required.

Privacy is a confusing mess

On an industry-wide basis, there’s still too much confusion.

Internet services have been offering convenience in exchange for personal information for so long that many people have become accustomed to sharing data.

Added to which, the lack of a consistent set of principle or access protocols with regard to user privacy makes for a lack of a core set of agreed consumer privacy standards.

Apple seems to believe government regulation is required in order to help promote a more consistent approach to privacy.

“We should consider a strong privacy law that is consistent across all 50 states that provides all consumers, regardless of where they live, the same protections,” said Horvath.

We’ve some way to go, as those continued attempts to force tech firms to create those security backdoors in their products prove some in government don’t grasp the challenge of privacy in a digital age. (Though some do get it).

While we wait for the industry and government to figure out a consistent approach, here are some guides to help iOS users manage their privacy using the tools Apple provides:

Finally, I currently recommend iPhone users take a look at the incredibly useful Jumbo app. This provides a range of privacy management and monitoring tools designed to easily put you in charge of what entities such as Apple, Facebook, Google or others are doing with your information.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

A glimpse at Apple’s 2020 vision

Apple patents granted in the final moments of 2019 shine a little light into its plans for the next decade.

What the patents say

Apple won 31 patents on December 31, 2019. Three are of particular interest:

  • A passenger safety system for vehicles.
  • A smart headphone system that optimizes the audio for how they are worn. (Might this actually be a highly efficient spatial sound system for immersive environments?)
  • An Eye ID system for a head-mounted display.

In some ways these patents don’t mean too much. Apple files many hundreds of patents every year and the existence of them doesn’t always mean the company will ship products based on them.

But in other ways they speak volumes.

Apple is planning the new decade

One way in which they matter is that they serve to prove Apple continues to invest in the development of cars, smart wearables and the long-anticipated Apple Glasses.

It is a trifecta of solutions that illuminate Apple’s goals for this decade:

  • To create a vehicle that defines transportation in the same way as iPhone defined mobile.
  • To develop an end-to-end ecosystem of products and services for highly immersive AR/VR experiences, for both consumer and business use.
  • To develop edge intelligence models based on distributed intelligence across connected devices.
  • We also know the company is exploring health, a sector Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to say will be what Apple will be remembered for.

Apple is planning for the next decade.

With 5G services and devices set to proliferate by around 2023, you can anticipate Apple’s existing media and gaming services will morph into an immersive AR/VR gaming offer – while FaceTime becomes a viable solution for secure enterprise chat.

Apple to speak at CES for first time in decades

Think connected devices and most people think of smart home devices.

Apple will appear at annual trade event CES in an official capacity for the first time I can recall. The company’s Jane Horvath is scheduled to appear at a consumer privacy panel on January 7. It is being reported that Apple will also demonstrate its own smart home system, HomeKit at the event.

Apple announced participation in an important open source partnership to improve the compatibility of the many disparate smart device systems in conjunction with Amazon, Google and others in 2019.

“By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification,” the partners said.

There is a huge need to standardize and secure the Internet of Things. A December FBI report warned of the security dangers of these devices, and the fact that most manufacturers are banding together to create an interoperable standard shows they now understand this too.

Apple has understood this for longer than any of them.

However, as devices themselves become more intelligent, the information they gather also becomes more sophisticated.

Ultimately it’s easy to predict smart devices that work in clusters to provide actionable intelligent insights to your homes, workplaces and factories.

What to look for in 2020

So how will we see these attempts play out this year?

Apple will begin its move to 5G with the release of new iPhones in 2020.

Don’t expect too much from 5G yet – most people won’t see stable and reliable 5G connections until 2022/3, and service deployments will be hybrid (5G/4G) for longer than that. This report explains some of the reasons for this.

The thing is, Apple (like most in the technology landscape) has come to the realization that connectivity and bandwidth are absolutely essential to all the solutions it now seeks to make.

(This is probably why the company continues experimenting with a satellite-based networking system.)

And this also means one of the most important components to Apple’s plans for the new decade will be successful proliferation of 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and other networking standards (including the afore mentioned IP-based standard for smart devices).

Which is why we should watch how Apple evidences its move to 5G within iPhones this year – and pay attention to its various IP development partnerships (such as with Intel and Ericsson) as it seeks to deploy its own self-developed 5G networking chips.

The latter will be of particular importance, as these systems will become the networking brains inside any future Apple vehicles (or immersive AR/VR devices) – and will need to work well with any other smart vehicles that may also be on the road.

Including through walls and underground, because there’s more to Ultra Wideband than just AirDrop. Collision detection, anyone?

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s Pro Display XDR sets the bar for pro displays

If you want to see the future of Apple displays, then you don’t need to look far for reference as the company prepares to introduce its reference monitor for the rest of us, the Pro Display XDR.

Apple’s under-rated jewel

Introduced at WWDC I was fortunate enough to look at the Pro Display XDR in real world use, as a photography tool, for video editing, music creation and other professional workflow scenarios.

I was also given the chance to see the display in use beside a range of reference displays from other manufacturers, some of which cost almost ten times as much as Apple’s far more affordable $5,000 price tag for the system.

Anecdotally, I can confirm the viewing angle on the display is highly impressive – none of the other displays were able to match it.

I also felt that color consistency and color accuracy, brightness and contrast using Apple’s monitor at worst matched and at best exceeded what we saw coming out of competing systems.

That’s my anecdotal opinion.

All about the Pro Display XDR

The company has done a huge amount to deliver this kind of quality to its professional users.

Not only has it figured out how to populate the display with an array of 576 LEDs, but it has also developed its own graphics chip to analyse the image signal in order to optimize how those LEDs work. 

This is capable of making slight adjustments to color hundreds of times a second for better accuracy. The systems produce 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness.

Accuracy and quality is also boosted by the over one billion colors the display can handle, while these screens can deliver sustained levels of brightness more than three times as well as an average panel.

Apple states its:

“Pro Display XDR features a 32-inch Retina 6K display with P3 wide and 10-bit color, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and a superwide viewing angle.”

It delivers  6,016-x-3,384 resolution and is also available in a glare-reducing matte version.

And clarity for all

What’s significant – at least for high-end Mac users in enterprise and business-critical scenarios at the cutting-edge of the creative, design, research and scientific industries is that you can pick up one of Apple’s displays, with a stand and a Mac Pro for less than the cost of a market-leading reference display from other manufacturers.

It’s actually cheaper.

But it also reflects a much deeper commitment that Apple holds to display technology. A commitment you can track right back to when it first began manufacturing its own displays in the ‘80’s.

Along with imaging enhancements on a system level (eg. Quartz, Metal, et al), in software (who else recalls when Photos and iMovie were tools Mac users got in the box that Windows users didn’t really have a good equivalent for?), the company also has a track record of display technology innovations in its systems.

That’s a track record Apple maintains in the Pro Display XDR, which proves that when the company puts its mind to it it is capable of delivering industry-leading image quality at a price no one else can match.

Some may note that introducing products at prices others cannot match is somewhat unusual for ‘the price is right but the price is high’ Apple.

That’s not an invalid point, but the new monitor also acts as a kind of desiderata for Apple’s future products.

apple wwdc19 pro display final cut Apple

Apple demonstrates the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR at WWDC19.

As above, so below

Apple is offering a 6K display pro users can actually afford. Many pro users rent those $40k reference displays for about the same cost as an XDR when they are working on a project – now they’ll be able to buy them instead.

We know how the company operates.

It introduces things at the high end of its product matrix and then – over time – makes those solutions available across a wider range of systems before it either replaces the technology or finds something better.

This means that in an indeterminate time frame we can anticipate 6K iMacs, just as we already have 5K and 4K iMacs. It also hints at the next stages of the road map for display enhancements across notebooks, iPhones and iPads. 

And, of course, if Apple wants to deliver graphics capabilities to meet the needs of the high-end markets, it’s also going to be determined to give pro users and content consumers good reasons to want to use those screens.

There’s no point using the world’s most advanced displays in order to watch black-and-white movies, really, is there?

Up next:

With this in mind it is reasonable to expect Final Cut, Logic and Apple’s other imaging software products will also be enhanced with the tools they need to truly take advantage of the company’s best displays.

Apple is also working to evolve new industries – such as AR – in which content creators can exploit high-end displays when developing high-end experiences, and then offer those experiences to consumers across the Apple ecosystem.

And as the image quality of the content created improves, so too will the image quality of the systems we consume such content on.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link

Apple’s OS development teams are going to ‘Build Different’

Some say the mantra for agile development is to be sufficiently resolute to move fast and break things, but as enterprises grow the consequences of doing so become unsustainable, as Apple appears to have learned with iOS 13.

Build different

A report claims Apple has changed the way its development teams work in response to a variety of bugs that crept into iOS 13.

It seems that Apple’s engineers have tended to push even features into daily builds of the operating systems before they were fully tested.

The effect of this was to make test hardware unstable as the OS would end up running a whole bunch of system components, some stable, some not, and some abandoned.

Of course, Apple’s platforms are inherently pretty robust, but the impact on the company’s testing procedures appears to have been to make it rather difficult for the testers to fully comprehend the actual state of the software they were testing.

This means that bugs crept into the operating system without being recognized as such, the report suggests – and the company has changed its approach for iOS 14 (“Azul”) development.

These changes have also been applied to the way it develops all its other platforms.

Actions have consequences

The impact of Apple’s previous development procedure on end users meant we saw multiple reports of things like disappearing email, app instability and sketchy network coverage once iOS 13 shipped.

To its credit, Apple moved swiftly to address problems as it found them, but the operating system has now seen 10 versions since September 19, 2019 – but this means customers have needed to install new software on more or less a weekly basis.

This also impacts third party software developers who may have needed to upgrade their apps at the same time. That’s annoying to customers and developers, and has a cost significance for Apple’s enterprise users.

Of course, the truth of the matter is that regular software upgrades and an efficient distribution system are also platform strengths, but I believe Apple strives to deliver feature enhancements in its releases – it doesn’t want to be fixing bugs.

At the same time, Bloomberg claims its developers were aware of problems with iOS 13 even before June’s WWDC event, choosing to focus on building a less buggy iOS 13.1 version rather than attempting to optimize iOS 13.

It is worth observing that iOS 13.1 patched 24 bugs on its release.

How Apple has changed its approach

The company is adopting a different approach in iOS 14 development — and this approach is being adopted across all its operating systems.

Incomplete software features will not longer be distributed in the same way. They will still be inside those daily builds, but will be switched off by default. Testers need to autonomously enable new features through a configuration panel, called Flags.

The intention is that by doing this, Apple gains better visibility into how software components are performing, what works and what doesn’t, and will hopefully more easily identify features that just aren’t yet ready to ship.

That’s the plan, at any rate.

The significance of this is that Apple’s customers should end up with a better user experience and encounter fewer software bugs in future – even if they are running public beta versions.

This is important because one of the jewels in Apple’s crown is that its customers upgrade their devices rapidly. It’s important as it provides developers with a stable platform for their apps, and provides security benefits to end users.

Apple has said that at present, 50% of all devices use a version of iOS 13, but the rate of adoption does seem a little slower than it was at this stage of previous release cycles.

It’s not a huge difference – Apple’s platform advantage remains – but it is not a trajectory the company will want to encourage.

Which is I guess why information of the change in its development practises has leaked.

Are there any lessons?

There are always lessons. One of the biggest is scale.

Apple serves around a billion customers with iOS.

Unlike the customer base of other more fragmented mobile platforms, nearly all these people are using a version of the OS that’s at most around a year old.

This is a strength as it means developers can focus their effort on the current and most recent versions of the company’s operating systems.

However, ensuring this advantage requires that the company knuckles down on stability when it releases software; while the scale of the audience it needs to address means that even a slight imperfection can become a colossal problem.

It’s the classic problem in any form of success:

On the way up, most organizations can be agile and flexible to change, unconstrained by reputation or legacy.

However, at some point on the journey, most organizations grow to a point at which significant resources must be spent on simply standing still, and may need to slow expansion and development in order to maintain the quality of what they provide already.

Most mature businesses end up there. Apple’s teams do a pretty good job as a veteran company at maintaining agility while also maintaining existing products, but the move to adopt new development practises reflects a similar challenge.

Some may argue that taking this step suggests Apple is becoming slightly less agile… but I don’t believe for a second this means it has forgotten how to dance – and with early rumors suggesting iOS 14 will be packed with new features (with some held back for iOS 15), I’ve a feeling it will still show others how well it commands the floor.

Though hopefully with bug-free dancing shoes.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





Source link