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Will Apple’s iPhone 9 be ‘Made in India’?

The morning runes suggest Apple may be preparing to increase the scale of iPhone manufacturing in India, as component orders, market speculation and news from supply chain partners combine to suggest just that.

The iPhone 9 unicorn is (almost) here, maybe

Industry watchers believe Apple will very soon replace iPhone 8 with a new device called, (appropriately enough given the company’s naming conventions) “iPhone 9”.

We’ve glanced at the rumors already, but here’s a quick reprise of what we think we know:

  • A13 processor.
  • Touch ID.
  • 64GB and 128GB models.
  • 3GB RAM.
  • U1 chip.
  • LCD display, from 5.4-inches. (Though other reports suggest 4.7-inches).
  • Single lens camera.
  • Space grey, silver, red.
  • Don’t forget, rumors are rumors and just because people say things might happen doesn’t mean they will. I’m glad to have got that out the way.

More recently, we learn Apple plans to commence manufacturing these things in February 2020, following previous claims it intends putting them on sale perhaps as soon as March.

Sure, but what about manufacturing?

Apple already makes iPhones in India where its partner Wistron already has two factories which have been occupied manufacturing iPhone SE and iPhone 6S.

Digitimes now tells us it has opened a third factory which will also begin making iPhones. Foxconn is also making iPhones in India and Pegatron is also looking to place factories there. Smaller Apple partners such as Salcomp are also investing in production facilities in the country.

Given current trade tension between the current U.S. administration and China, it makes sense for Apple to diversify its supply chain in order to protect shoppers against unexpected price hikes.

The company has been applying a great deal of energy in India for some time both because it wants to both generate new business in India’s rapidly expanding economy and also because it really, really wants to diversify its supply chain.

Apple has also been ever so keen to stress that it is looking to make a long-term commitment to the country.

“We’re not here for a quarter, or two quarters, or the next year, or the next year,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a 2016 visit there. “We’re here for a thousand years.”

Jaw-jaw beats war-war

It’s fair to say Apple hit some hurdles. Not only were its products quite expensive in terms of the local economy, but India enforced a number of regulations that made expanding its business there difficult. To mitigate these challenges, it appears Apple has engaged with local government to find a mutually useful compromise.

That’s why news that India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is exploring a range of initiatives it hopes will encourage big tech firms to set up shop there seems so well timed – with tax breaks, loan subsidies, infrastructure investment and the creation of special tech industry zones all being discussed.

In other words, the timing seems pretty good for at least some expansion of Apple’s manufacturing presence in India, even as its iPhone 11 series devices have re-ignited local interest in the company’s products. The iPhone 11 is selling strongly in India with queues of people ready to shop when the device launched.

Apple’s move to improve its current low end offering (the iPhone 8 is currently the entry-level model) with an iPhone 9 will widen the breadth of what it has available. The company already makes the iPhone XR there, reports have claimed, and these devices are apparently exported elsewhere.

Made in India?

With a new model set to go into production in February, news that Apple has asked TSMC to increase production of Apple’s A-series processors is likely not just spurred by strong sales, but also to address what’s coming in FY20 Q3, which is: Even stronger sales as a lower cost model hits the shelves.

If successful (and there’s little reason an A13-powered but more affordable device shouldn’t be) the new model is going to require the company to ramp up its manufacturing capacity – and with so many partners investing deeply in manufacturing centres there, it seems possible we’ll see at least some of these new iPhone models designed in California, but Made in India.

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.

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Breaking iPhone encryption won’t make anyone safer

Imagine all your tax documentation could be examined by officials from any government merely on suspicion. That’s the future some governments are pushing for when they demand Apple puts security backdoors into its products.

Making no one safe

Think about the nature of security backdoors:

  • They represent deliberate security flaws in operating systems and devices at a core level, designed to break encryption on these devices.
  • Those flaws may require some form of ‘key’ to access.
  • However, once you have a vulnerability it’s only a matter of time before people figure out where it is – hackers are smart.
  • Once build the lock it’s only a matter of time until someone manages to pick it – does anyone else remember the Enigma Code?

“But the keys will be kept with secure government agencies,” some say.

So what?

It only takes one disaffected government employee, one deeply inserted spy in government or a tech company, or one sophisticated criminal attack to successfully extract that key.

Locks are easily picked

After that, it’s only a matter of time before such keys end up in the hands of security agencies from every government, including those who cannot be trusted.

As these keys are deliberately designed the operating system vendor will not be in position to patch them.

Those keys won’t just reach other governments, they will also reach the hands of various criminal entities who will see the huge opportunity for theft, profit and blackmail inherent in gaining access to every smartphone owner’s digital life.

Things leak.

Think back just a year ago when police-grade iPhone hacking tools suddenly appeared for sale on eBay, for example. Or ponder the fate of the GrayKey box.

That’s even before you consider how such access threatens connected systems of every kind, from enterprise relationship management software to enabling unknowns to access the log in codes for your local power station.

Follow the money

In fact, it seems to me that criminals and hostile governments have the most to gain from any move to make mobile devices less secure.

I imagine they are already thinking about the money they will make and chaos they can create as mobile security is deliberately broken.

That’s even before discussing how this undermines privacy.

These are just some of the many reasons Apple’s statement in response to the born again move to force it to break security in its devices should be supported.

It isn’t as if Apple is not prepared to help law enforcement – it says it has provided a huge amount of information, including iCloud backups and more. It is also true that other entities (including carriers) are also providing evidence.

Not just for the good guys

In a statement on the current furore, Apple said:

“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users’ data.”

Apple has made similar arguments before.

In a letter to its customers following the San Bernardino case, it said:

“For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.”

One ring to ruin them all

There’s another problem.

After all, if one government demands such security backdoors, then every government will do the same. This may have a chilling effect on religious minorities, for example.

There is no tech company that can realistically deny some governments and not others. If Apple weakens encryption for one nation, it will be forced to do so in others. 

And mobile device security will weaken one encryption backdoor at a time.

The effect?

We will all be poorer and less secure.

Those security keys will inevitably end up in the hands of criminals and hostile actors.

Bank accounts will be robbed, data stolen, and digital terrorism (including attacks on critical infrastructure) enabled on an international scale.

The end result will not be more security, but far less.

Or, as you might put it in 130 characters or less:

“Security backdoors and broken encryption will enable more criminal and terrorist activity than they prevent.” 

Consider the consequences, rather than being seduced by the soundbite.

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.

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6 iPhone hacks to make you more productive

There are so many productivity tips for iPhone users. Here’s a brand new collection of them.

Save (almost) anything as a PDF

The easiest way to save anything you can print from your iPhone or iPad as a PDF isn’t particularly clear, but this is a great way to gather copies of almost anything and is as simple as:

  • Open the item you want to save.
  • Tap Share and select Print.
  • When the print dialog appears you’ll see a preview of the item you wish to print. Tap this with two fingers and spread them out.
  • The preview should grow to fill the page. Congratulations – you just made a PDF.
  • Tap the Share icon and you can now save this item to Files.

Create meeting transcripts the easy way

Are you responsible for writing the minutes of meetings? Perhaps you’re a student wanting accurate lecture notes, or a researcher trying to transcribe lengthy discussions?

The easiest way to transcribe on your iPhone is to use the Otter.ai app.

This works using the microphone on your device, uploading recordings to the service which then transcribes them in real time.

Once fully transcribed you’ll receive a notification and you can search and surf through those transcriptions on your device. You can also export them in various formats. It is also possible to upload recordings (such as recorded calls) to the service for transcription.

While I do find it necessary to work through and correct transcriptions this is way easier than doing the task manually and I find it incredibly useful.

Say it don’t write it

Your iPhone isn’t just good for asking Siri silly questions, it’s a quite capable dictation device. You can even use it to dictate letters, scribble thoughts or write for other reasons while on the move – just ask Siri to open your writing app (Word?) and then tap the microphone icon on the keyboard that appears and dictate away. Yes, you’ll probably need to learn Apple’s built-in dictation commands (there’s a handy list of these here), and you will need to double-check your document for accuracy, but using this feature frees you to work in different environments in places you choose.

NB: Don’t neglect that you can also use Siri to write and send mail and messages, but I imagine most of us already do that, at least to some extent.

Automate the simple things

The number of emails we receive that state “Sent from my iPhone” is the number of people who have not yet managed to set their device up to automatically write a signature at the end of their email. It’s simple to do:

  • Open Settings>Mail>Signature.
  • Choose if you want to use the same signature from All Accounts or Per Accounts for emails sent from your device.
  • You must then create a relevant signature for each account, or one generic signature for each account using the dialog boxes you’ll find.

This one simple step will make your communications look more professional. And leads you nicely onto another form of automation that makes sense:

Text Replacement (Settings>General>Keyboard>Text Replacement).

This lets you create text shortcuts for complex phrases or sentences.

Open it and you will see some of Apple’s oven-ready Text Replacement set ups. Choose a Shortcut, such as “Monitoring form question 3” and then in the Phrase box you can create the block of text for the task.

Neutralize Notifications

Why not trim your Notifications?

For example, I only receive email notifications from people I keep in my VIP list, and only see on-screen app notifications from the apps I most need to know about, primarily communications but also project-related apps, such as Slack or Trello.

To achieve this I thought about the nature of notifications.

  • Urgent apps I set to provide notifications on the Lock screen, Notification Center and Banners with (perhaps) Sound and Badges enabled.
  • Less urgent apps get granted Lock screen and Notification Center privileges, with (perhaps) Sound and Badges enabled.
  • Any of the remaining apps that are slightly worth watching are only granted Badges with everything else disabled.
  • And all the other apps have all notifications disabled. And I’ve probably disabled Location services for them, too.

It is a little tedious setting this up if you have a lot of apps – you need to open Settings>Notifications and then set the relevant permission for each app. You should then make sure to set this up for any new apps you install.

The beauty is that once you have done this then you’ll never miss an important notification and will know that if you are alerted by an app then it is probably one you want to know about.

It really is time to use Do Not Disturb mode

Shut everything out while you try to focus.

Open Control Center, tap the half-moon icon to silence calls, alerts, and notifications until you tap to switch them on again. Better yet, given you might forget to exit Do Not Disturb mode, tap and hold the Do Not Disturb icon and then choose a duration to silence it all.

  • For 1 hour.
  • Until this evening.
  • Until I leave this location.
  • Schedule your own

You may also benefit from using the Be Focused focus timing app to help you optimize the work you get done while in Do Not Disturb mode with its concentration tips.

Want even more productivity tips? I’ve got you. Try these:

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.

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iPhone apps, blockchain and the future of food

If you could verify how your food was grown, treated and distributed using an iPhone app, blockchain and a packaging code, would you? IBM thinks you might.

From the cradle to the plate

Everyone knows that food standards aren’t equal. Nowhere is this clearer than in the treatment of chickens destined for your plate. Some are reared in conditions considered cruel by many consumers, people who will vote with their wallets for better treatment if they are informed.

It’s not too different when it comes to vegetables, some of which travel enormous distances before reaching your local store.

Modern consumers are more concerned with the environmental impact of these journeys than ever before and want to be able to check this almost as much as they want to verify the safety of pesticides used during the growth cycle.

You don’t usually get access to such information, and if you do it is quite hard to truly verify that the data you are provided with is correct. That’s where blockchain comes into play – as does your iPhone or other mobile devices.

What IBM is doing

IBM at CES 2020 introduced a new app that uses blockchain to link consumers up with the farmers who grow their coffee beans. The idea is that when you are purchasing coffee, you can use the app on your mobile device to check where it comes from, how it’s grown, distributed, shipped, exported, blended and roasted.

The problem with accessing this information across the typical distribution cycle is that different entities are usually responsible for each step of the process. This means that no one group gathers all the data.

Using blockchain

IBM is using blockchain as a permanent and trusted way to track what takes place across the cycle. Each party in the process has an exact copy of the information held on the blockchain, adding their own data during the journey. They don’t need to add other people’s, as that information is already in the chain.

When it comes to coffee purchasers, they get full insight into the journey. All this data is made available using a QR code, your smartphone and the upcoming Thank my Farmer app.

There’s a video here that shows a little of how this works.

The idea is that the app connects consumers to farmers, traders and others, and uses an interactive map to show you what happened to the coffee you buy.

You can learn more about this in the statement, but one point stands out:

“Coffee drinkers today consume more than half a trillion cups per year, and as many as two-thirds of consumers aged 19-24 surveyed say they prefer to buy coffee that is sustainably grown and responsibly sourced.”

In other words, younger consumers are deeply committed to sustainability and responsible business practices.

The new normal?

I think this app represents what will become normalized thought, as this way of looking at consuming is adopted. Consumers will leanr to expect access to this kind of information.

They will expect to be able to verify the life cycle of products they purchase using an app, even while they are in the mall. 

Raj Rao, General Manager of the IBM Food Trust, puts it this way:

“Blockchain is more than aspirational business tech, it is used today to transform how people can build trust in the goods they consume. For business, it can drive greater transparency and efficiency.”

Trust and transparency

IBM supports Farmer Connect, which is part of the partnership behind Thank My Farmer. The organization seeks to use digital technologies to create an ecosystem for small farmers that will drive supply chain efficiency and connect consumers with the people who grow what they eat.

But it’s not just about efficiency. It’s about trust and transparency, and just as blockchain technology enables this in pharmaceuticals, health records, data security and financial affairs, it should also empower consumers with valuable insights that will guide future purchasing decisions in other fields.

It has impact at both ends of the chain, of course: In the case of food supply, making such insights available should benefit small independent concerns who can coalesce their business around the delivery of provably high-quality products.

For example, customers who care might choose to support a small organic farm above a multinational firm that perhaps holds lower standards – particularly when identifying the difference is enabled by a tool you can use just by pointing your iPhone camera at a product label in your local retail store.

Up next

Retailers know consumers already pull out their iPhone to check product prices while they shop. Many now offer to price match if better prices are found online.

IBM’s work places a new string to this bow. Sure, price-conscious buyers will still be led by cost above quality. But blockchain-based cradle-to-plate solutions such as the coffee app mean iPhone users will be better informed on quality, sustainability and environmental responsibility when they shop.

The process closes the circle between growers and consumers, educating all involved with insight into each other, presumably enabling better personalization and enhanced customer satisfaction.

The mobile disruption of every business still continues, 13 years since the introduction of the first iPhone. Perhaps Apple will use similar technologies to answer critics of its own supply chain practices?

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.

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What we think we know about iPhone 2020

As a new decade dawns, speculation season begins with the annual raft of rumor that always precedes launch of a new iPhone. Here are the highlights at this time:

More models than ever?

Can anyone recall a time when there was only one iPhone model?

That changed several years ago.

Today you can purchase four different kinds of Apple mobile from the company store – with some carriers offering even more choice. Now it appears the company intends further diversification of its line-up.

Digitimes claims Apple plans to introduce two iPhone SE type devices which a second report from analyst Ming Chi Kuo suggests it may call the iPhone 9. These devices would join the iPhone 12 range.

Such diversification would broaden Apple’s addressable market, hopefully enhancing market share. It could see Apple offering four OLED and two LCD models of iPhone for a six-strong range.

Apple continues to refuse a 4-inch iPhone

The bad news is that Apple seems committed to resisting the millions of iPhone fans who would like a 4-inch model.

I’ve no idea why it insists on this.

At present, rumor claims 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch devices, so there will be a model that’s a little smaller though not quite as small as people actually want. You may also see a 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.

But loses the notch

The company has applied for three design patents in Japan. These include a model without a notch that is equipped with an in-display fingerprint reader and an under-screen camera.

Apple has been working to hide biometrics under the display for years and the fruits of this travail get real in 2020, a report claims.

A14: A new frontier

We’ve been expecting that the iPhone 12 processor will be a 5-nanometer chip designed to further increase Apple’s performance lead on rivals. This won’t be unused capacity and you can expect improvements in graphics, AI, app and network performance within this.

At time of writing TSMC is likely to build these processors.

One more thought: These 5nm chips may be suitable for use in wearable devices on account of their high performance and low power. Your AirPods will eventually replace your iPhone – particularly as TSMC drives toward 3nm chips by 2023…

The 5G dawn

The first 5G iPhones are expected this year.

Devices equipped with the standard are expected to support both the mmWave and sub-6GHz bands.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that 5G iPhones won’t cost significantly more than their non-5G equivalents.

All the same, most of us will be waiting a while longer for consistent service availability, which means we’ll still spend most of our time on 4G.

Expect more RAM

Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis predicts the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will likely have 6GB of RAM, up from 4GB in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The base model will hold 4GB RAM while the iPhone SE replacement carries 3GB.

Apple maintains its focus on imaging

The camera improves with an advanced 3D depth perception camera designed for augmented reality.

That means perspective in AR applications will be more accurate, will enable far more realistic object modelling and may empower development of new breeds of productive AR apps, particularly in retail, medical and enterprise communications.

The camera means the iPhone will be able to map its environment accurately, which may have additional implications in conjunction with the UWB (U1) chip introduced in iPhone 11.

Apple is expected to deploy a stabilization technology called sensor shift which will vastly reduce camera shake by using real time software analysis of gyroscopic data to compensate.

There is some expectation the optical zoom will improve from the current 2x in iPhone. (Apple does offer 10x digital zoom).

A better display

There have been claims Apple intends to equip iPhones with faster 120Hz ProMotion dislays. This means four OLED and two LCD models in a range of sizes from 5.4-inches to 6.7-inches.

What is an iPhone?

The iPhone will look like an iPhone. It may have smaller bezels. It will have better displays and be available in a range of different sizes. Pundits will still moan. That’s what they do.

We may see new colors

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited iPhone supplier Seiko Advance in December 2019. While there, he explained that the company was the reason why iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are available in Midnight Green.

One can’t help but wonder what other colors we might encounter in iPhone 12 and to what extent Apple hopes to make these devices collectible by constraining color availability.

More news this fall

Apple is expected to maintain its fall iPhone launch – but don’t ignore speculation in 2019 that suggested a mid-2020 launch for an iPhone SE replacement.

While this conversation seems to have atrophied it makes sense: Apple could certainly generate a more predictable flow of iPhone sales by making staggered product introductions across the year. At present sales peak in one quarter of its year.

We’ll get some insight into the first quarter of iPhone sales during Apple’s Q1 fiscal call on January 28.

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.

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Ultra Wideband (UWB) explained (and why it’s in the iPhone 11)

One of the new chips in this year’s crop of iPhones is the U1; it provides Ultra Wideband (UWB) connectivity that, in conjunction with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, could offer a myriad of new services for enterprises and consumers.

As Apple puts it, UWB technology offers “spatial awareness” – the ability for your phone to recognize its surroundings and the objects in it. Essentially, one iPhone 11 user can point his or her phone at another and transfer a file or photo.

While the technology isn’t new, Apple’s implementation marks the first time UWB has been used in a modern smartphone.

What is Ultra Wideband?

UWB is a short-range, wireless communication protocol that – like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – uses radio waves. But it differs substantially in that IT operates at a very high frequency. As its name denotes, it also uses a wide spectrum of several GHz. One way to think of it is as a radar that can continuously scan an entire room and precisely lock onto an object like a laser beam to discover its location and communicate data.

In the early 2000s, UWB saw limited use in military radars and covert communications and was used briefly as a form of medical imaging, such as remote heart monitoring systems; Its adoption lagged until recently when commercial interests began exploring potential uses.

Today, its primary purpose is expected to be location discovery and device ranging, according to Phil Solis, an IDC research director. While both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have been modified to allow greater accuracy in locating other devices and connecting to them, UWB is natively more precise, uses less power and, as production of UWB chips ramps up over time, holds the promise of a lower price point.

Samsung, Apple and Huawei, the world’s largest smartphone makers, are all involved in UWB projects including chip and antenna production, according to Solis. Apple, however, is the first to actually deploy it in a phone.

Samsung, along with Xiaomi, NXP, Sony, Bosch and others, are also a part of the FiRa (fine ranging) Consortium, which is working to grow the UWB ecosystem. That ecosystem is built atop the existing IEE 802.15.4/4x standard for low-data-rate wireless communication.

How does UWB work?

A UWB transmitter works by sending billions of pulses (UWB was previously known as “pulse radio”) across the wide spectrum frequency; a corresponding receiver then translates the pulses into data by listening for a familiar pulse sequence sent by the transmitter. Pulses are sent about one every two nanoseconds, which helps UWB achieve its real-time accuracy.

UWB is extremely low power but the high bandwidth (500MHz) is ideal for relaying a lot data from a host device to other devices up to about 30 feet away. Unlike Wi-Fi, however, it is not particularly good at transmitting through walls.

“Because it’s such high frequency, it’s very much line of sight,” said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates. “So, the advantage is because it has such wide bandwidth, it has a lot of data capability. If you’re transmitting a 60GHz signal that’s 500MHz wide… and multiply that by however many channels you can do, you’re talking very wide band.”

To increase UWB’s range and reception reliability, a MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output), distributed antenna system has been added to the standard that enables short-range networks. The antennas can be embedded into a smartphone or other devices such as a wristband or smart key.

When a smartphone with UWB (like the latest iPhone) comes close to another UWB device, the two start ranging, or measuring, their exact distance. The ranging is accomplished through “Time of Flight” (ToF) measurements between the devices; these are used to calculate the roundtrip time of challenge/response packets.

UWB Apple FiRa Ultra-Wideband FiRa Consortium

Based on the IEEE 802.15.4a standard, UWB can determine the relative position of peer devices with line of sight at up to 200 meters, according to the FiRa Consortium. The Consortium is currently adding a security extension – specified in IEEE 802.15.4z – to make it a “secure fine-ranging technology.”

>>>>>>>Depending on the type of use, such as asset tracking or device localization, one of the UWB devices calculates the precise location of another UWB-enabled object – such as those car keys or television remote control that fell between the couch cushions. (If  the device is running an indoor navigation service, the UWB-enabled device must know its relative location to the fixed UWB “anchors” and calculate its position on an area map.)<<<<<<<

With precise ranging, UWB has an advantage in both precision and security over Bluetooth and WiFi, according to Solis, and that advantage can be used for many different applications. For example, a UWB-enabled device can be used to unlock a car like a key FOB or enable entrance to a secure area within a building. Or, a UWB-enabled smart phone or watch could enable access to a band account via an ATM.

“It would essentially be another security check,” Solis said. “Or, your phone becomes your debit card. And maybe Apple has in mind NFC being used for [Apple] Pay and UWB becomes another check for that.”

UWB could also be another way to thwart relay, or man-in-the-middle attacks, where bad actors monitor an area like a parking lot in an attempt to intercept and then store authentication messages between two devices, such as a key FOB and a car. The UWB device’s signal would ignore all other devices in an area.

What are possible uses for UWB?

Apple patented the use of UWB with beacons (called iBeacon), small battery powered sensors that can be attached to objects and broadcast a signal that an enabled UWB device can then use to estimate distance between two objects down to a few centimeters for location services. So, for example, an airport or mall equipped with a network of beacons could monitor a pedestrian’s progress through the building and offer directions to a destination in real time.

Apple only mentioned UWB in passing in concert with its iPhone 11 and iOS 13.1 September announcements, stating that AirDrop would get better with “directionally aware suggestions.” Basically, UWB enables device users to know who’s around them and target them to transfer a document through AirDrop.

“That’s exactly what they’re trying to do,” said Gold. “They’re saying, your friend is three degrees to your left, and this woman Joan is right behind you. Don’t send any stuff to Joan, just send it to your friend.”

In that regard, Gold said, UWB can be a much more secure method for transmitting data between phones over a short distance because it knows exactly where the other UWB-enabled device is.

What will UWB do in the iPhone 11?

Apple developed its U1 chip to eable all three models of the iPhone 11 to transmit data using the AirDrop file transfer service at a distance similar to Bluetooth.

While AirDrop can operate using Bluetooth and WiFi, the Apple-developed U1 chip enables specificity. In other words, instead of a list of possible recipients of a file, an iPhone 11 user can point their phone at another iPhone 11 and only it will appear for file transmission. 

In the future, expect to see Apple enable the iPhone as a type of vehcle key FOB. 

The FiRa Consortium believes the UWB will transform connectivity experiences across IoT and the automotive industries, according to Debra Spitler, vice president of business development.

FiRa’s initial focus is on three primary categories of use cases: (1) hands-free access control; (2) location-based services; and (3) device-to-device (peer-to-peer) applications. Those categories of use cases then cross 6 use case segments that include smart home and enterprises, smart cities and mobility, smart transportation, consumer use, smart retail, and industry 4.0 and healthcare.

UWB FiRa Apple FiRa Consortium

“UWB was originally introduced as a high data rate communication technology for multi-media data. To establish UWB as a new “ranging technology” will require the creation of a whole new ecosystem,” FiRa stated via email.

Where does UWB go from here?

FiRa Consortium members are convinced that the success of UWB secure fine ranging depends on an interoperable, holistic, and inter-connected ecosystem. That will require:

  • Interoperability between several devices, and necessitates compliance and certification programs.
  • Close collaboration with other industry organizations such as IEEE, Wi-Fi Alliance, Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), and others. The FiRa Consortium will focus on UWB use cases utilizing the available 6-9 GHz spectrum.
  • That we attract member companies who bring extensive ecosystem know-how, leadership positions in targeted market verticals, and broad technical and system expertise, as well as a strong presence and experience in other consortia relevant to UWB.
  • The introduction of a new name, FiRa to help overcome UWB’s stereotype as an “old communication technology” and instead emphasize UWB’s transformation as a secure fine ranging and sensing technology.
  • Strong market outreach and education on the benefits of using UWB technology.

“We’ll have to see how well it actually works out, and how many people want it and how many services they can actually tie to it,” Gold said. “And, do you really want a mini-radar on your phone? I think that’s what could hold it back.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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How to use Google Drive on iPhone, iPad

Apple’s Files app is a fantastic solution for Apple users who need flexibility when it comes to the cloud storage services they us as it supports iCloud, Dropbox, Box and Google Drive.

Why is Google Drive useful?

The promise of cloud storage systems is that it becomes easier to use different platforms efficiently.

You might want to access your files using your parent’s older Windows PC, even while using a MacBook Pro at home, a Chrome tablet when you travel and an iPhone the rest of the time.

Fortunately, it is becoming easier to use all of these systems together – you might use iCloud with Windows, and can also use Google Drive with Windows, Mac and iOS systems, as well as Android devices such as that Chrome tablet.

While managing files across all these disparate platforms may sometimes be a little more complex, it makes it possible to stay productive in a platform agnostic way.

How to use Google Drive on iPhone, iPad

At a very basic level, using Google Drive on iOS devices is simple: Download and install the app, login with your Google ID and you can begin to store items from your device to your Google Drive, which offers 15GB of free space.

The Files app makes this even simpler as once you have downloaded Google’s app and logged into it, Google Drive will be made available as one of your Locations within the Apple Files app.

This makes accessing documents and other data you have stored in Google Drive as easy as finding anything else in Files. You do still need to open up the Google Drive app to access some of the service’s more sophisticated features.

You can also drag-&-drop content between the different storage services you may have enabled on your device, though you must wait for content to be downloaded to your iPhone first.

Changes made to any file in Google Drive on any of your computers or mobile devices will be updated across all your devices, of course.

A note about Google apps

If you use Google’s apps – Docs, Sheets, or Slides – and the apps are installed on your device, tapping on any Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation in the Files app will open the app of the associated Google editor. 

If you don’t have these apps installed then they should open in a compatible app that you do have installed on your device, so long as the document format works. There’s a selection of tips to help you get more from using Google Docs on iOS devices here.

Supplementing iCloud

Apple’s biggest weakness is the miserly amount of free storage it provides to iOS users, who get just 5GB of space in which to store their digital identity.

While most iOS users will spend a little money in order to increase the quantity of storage they have available, many choose to use alternative online storage services to supplement the free space they get.

With 15GB of storage, Google Drive can be a good way to store video and images captured on your device. You can choose to store every image, or just manually store those that you most want to keep safe.

To store Photos images manually:

Assuming you have installed Google Drive and are logged into your account:

  • Open the app and then tap the Plus (+) icon to create a new folder in which to store your images.
  • You then tap the blue-&-white (+) button and select upload. You’ll be asked to choose which file type you want to upload.
  • Select Photos and Videos and you will be able to select images and videos from your Photos app to upload to Google Drive.
  • (You will need to give the Drive app permission to access your images).
  • Once you have selected your images tap the Upload button to store them to your Drive.

To store Photos images automatically:

If you want to store everything all the time, then you’ll need to install the Google Photos app.

This lets you store an unlimited number of 16MP photos and 1,080HD videos for free – or upgrade to a subscription-based plan to backup images in their original image quality.

Once you’ve installed Google Photos and signed into your account tap the Menu icon in the app and choose Settings>Back up & sync, which you should switch to On. You may need to give the app permission to access your Photos.

NB: It is also possible to back images up to your Google Drive. Open that app, and then enable Auto Backup in Settings>Backup.

You can also choose to backup contacts and calendar events here, though this may not be appropriate if you rely on Apple’s services for these tasks.

Use Google Drive to share huge files

You can send files up to 15GB large to others with Google Drive, though you’ll need to upload the files to your Drive first (and probably pay extra for storage if you hit the 15GB maximum free tier).

  • Create a new folder using the New button.
  • Place the big item you want to share in there.
  • Select the folder in the MyDrive section and tap the Share item to enter the name and address of the person you want to share that item with.

There are more hints for Google Drive collaboration here.

Using items stored in Google Drive

While the Files app is fine for accessing your information, you do get more features when you use the Google Drive app.

For example, when navigating files stored in Google Drive if you press the triple dot icon to the right of the file name you can access tools to send and make copies, move files, rename and remove them and (I think most useful) an Available Offline item, which (at the risk of seeming obvious) you should use if you plan working with some files when you are offline.

At the top left of the Google Drive app you’ll see a box comprised of three straight lines. Tap this and you’ll be able to share folders, search for recent items, and a range of other options.

Let me know about your best Google Drive on iOS tips. 

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.

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All about the latest iPhone location privacy scare

That story going round that claims iPhone 11 devices are secretly harvesting your location information even though you’ve told them not to do so? You don’t need to worry about it, and here’s why:

What’s the story?  

The tale begins when a security researcher noticed the devices seemed to be sending out location data even when Location Services were switched off on the iPhone.

He thought this was weird, but Apple reassured him that this was “expected behaviour” – and while the company took a little time to figure out what to say about this, it’s answer is convincing, once you know what it means.

What Apple said

The matter relates to iPhone 11’s U1 chip, which brings in an exciting (yet veteran) technology called Ultra Wideband (UWB).

Speaking to TechCrunch, Apple described UWB as an industry standard that is also subject to some regulatory usage limitations, meaning it can’t operate all the time.

Devices implementing it have to turn it off in some places, the company said.

Apple uses Location Services with UWB in order to ensure it is disabled in those places it is not permitted for use:

“The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Security researchers seem to back this opinion up, saying there’s no evidence this location data gets shared beyond the device.

What is UWB?

I’ve written quite a lot about UWB, which is an old tech (first authorized in 2002) only now entering the light as the cost of its components fall and the case of using it grows.

The best way to see UWB is as a complementary technology to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (it can also replace them, but all three have advantages).

Apple media tend to focus on its time-of-flight capabilities, as it uses such data to figure out its position.

“The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 Pro to precisely locate other U1‑equipped Apple devices. It’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities,” Apple has said.

What are the advantages of the standard?

However, UWB’s advantages are:

  • Can pass through walls better than both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
  • Has a range up to 100-meters.
  • Accurate up to 10cms.
  • Transmit data at 8 megabits (+) per second in mobile devices.
  • It requires very little energy.
  • Resistant to interference.

In other words, UWB is a low power solution that’s capable of sharing data in a hyper-local network that is also equipped enough to know where it is in relation to a compatible system it wants to communicate with.

Apple only has one current use for UWB in iPhones:

If you want to share items using AirDrop from one iPhone 11 to another, you just need to point your device at the other and that device will be first on your Share list.

This seems to me to be just the tip of the iceberg, given the standard’s other advantages.

It may certainly have implementation in Apple’s future product matrix.

What about security?

It is also highly secure – meaning its signals are hard to intercept and hard to crack, as I explained in this report:

“UWB is inherently more secure than Bluetooth. It works by sending out short pulses to other devices in range which then return the signal.

“The low range and wide wave bands supported by the standard make it much harder to spoof those pulses, while time-of-flight means the standard can tell precisely where an object is located.

“This means your keyless car entry system will actually know you are standing near the vehicle, and those pulsed and highly secured signals are much harder to intercept in man-in-the-middle and relay attacks. Not only do cars and doors know where you are, but the whole exchange is much harder to hack as the right signal coming from the wrong location won’t work.”

What this also means is that while your device is picking up location data which isn’t being shared, it is doing so in ways that cannot easily be hacked, cracked, hijacked or stolen.

Up next

UWB is already in use across factories and warehouses using UWB tags.

Car manufacturers are exploring the technology as a highly secure tool for keyless locking systems. Volkswagen recently demonstrated use of the standard (with AI) to provide walking pattern recognition, so the vehicle doesn’t just recognize the key, but also learns to understand who should be using that key.

Of course, in the current climate around the tech industry it’s no surprise so many people are concerned at machines that gather so much data about us – why wouldn’t we be?

It’s also fair to say that UWB is packed with features that could conceivably be used in some way to abuse privacy – it’s useful for indoor mapping, for example.

However, I guess Apple’s gamble here is to figure out how to provide convenience in conjunction with privacy, given that’s been its game plan for the last couple of years.

Though this doesn’t necessarily mean those products will remain as focused on user privacy in the event laws change, or management focus moves away from company-wide protection of it.

No company can really resist government regulation, after all.

But, if you want my reading of the current situation around UWB, the concern around its use of location is a little overblown, particularly because the data stays on the device.

In future it may become a lot more acceptable if you are able to use mesh-based UWB systems to find lost and stolen Apple devices logged into your Apple ID.

Which seems to me to be just one of the potential scenarios for this tech.

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.

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10+ tips for better iPhone battery life

What can you do when you’re racing to the next meeting, desperate to use Wallet to catch your plane, or otherwise stuck on a long and winding road with no access to power for your iPhone? You can follow these tips…

Think about how you use your iPhone

Of course I realise that when you are using your iPhone you want to be able to do everything you possibly can do with it, but when you’re attempting to eke out a little more active battery life it makes sense to think about what you are using your device for and how to do so in a more energy efficient way.

That means that when battery life is important you should ration how many times you check your device, avoid watching video or playing processor-intensive (or any) games and send text messages rather than make voice calls. It takes more battery power to make a voice call than send a text.

Do you need to check social media right now?

Use Low Power Mode

The first step you should always take is Low Power Mode.

The easiest way to enable this is to swipe down from the top right side of your iPhone and then tap the Battery icon you should see there. This slightly dims the screen, limits background processes, slightly slows the processor and otherwise trims the energy demanded by your device in normal use.

You can also enable Low Power Mode in Settings>Battery>Low Power Mode.

NB: If the Battery icon does not appear in your Control Center, visit Settings>Control Center>Customise and enable Low Power Mode there.

Switch to Dark Mode

When you use your iPhone your display’s True Tone feature automatically adjusts display brightness to make colors appear consistent in different places.

The thing is, this also means your display will be brighter when used in bright places, such as when using it outside. The downside of which is that when your display is brighter you’ll be using more power to display what’s on it.

Recent tests suggest that there’s an appreciable difference in battery life if you use Dark Mode on your iPhone and with your apps. If you are trying to extend battery life, you should use Dark Mode, as even a one or two percent improvement means you’ll get more time between every charge.

NB: In Settings>Display & Brightness you can disable Automatic appearance and True Tone and set the brightness levels down as low as possible in order to conserve battery life.

Switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

I know this recommendation makes no sense if you are using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to get things done, but if you aren’t then you will see useful extension to your battery life if you simply switch Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth off.

You can do this in Settings, but the easiest way to do this is to summon Control Center and then long press either the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icon until the network controls appear. Now you can switch one or both networking standards off.

Halt Motion and Dynamic Backgrounds

Low Power Mode should mitigate both of these features, but to be certain you aren’t wasting valuable energy on eye candy when you need to keep your iPhone working just a little bit longer, disable these:

Motion: Settings> Accessibility>Motion>Reduce Motion and toggle to on (green).

Dynamic Backgrounds: Settings>Wallpaper>Choose a New Wallpaper and select a static wallpaper from the ‘Stills’ section.

Turn off App Location Services

Lots of apps (more than you realize) seem to think they need to track your location in order to work. The thing is, all those little GPS interrogations and data harvesting of your location cost you energy, and you’re reading this article because you want to conserve energy – so disable App Location Services.

Open Settings>Privacy>Location Services and toggle this to off.

While you’re at it, why not take a moment to review which apps are currently accessing your location data. Do you use those apps often enough that you want to let them?

NB: You can also disable some system activities – scroll down the page at Settings>Privacy>Location Services and tap System Services. You can pretty safely disable Location-Based Apple Ads, Popular Near Me and iPhone Analytics without impacting your user experience. And while the power saving may be tiny, it may just be the tiny tweak of energy you need.

Use AirPlane Mode

Another way to disable Wi-FI, Bluetooth and your cellular connection is to use AirPlane Mode (Control Center, tap the plane icon).

If you want to continue using one of those features, you can switch them on again individually while remaining in AirPlane mode.

Perhaps you want to keep Wi-Fi active but don’t need calls or Bluetooth, for example. Just jump into Control Center and reenable the networking activity you need or leave them all off for significantly improved battery life in order to keep working on that document or whatever.

Switch it off

Sleeping? Unless you really expect to receive a call or utterly rely on your iPhone for your morning alarm call, why not switch off your device? If you sleep for eight hours that will save you approximately one-third of your daily charge.

(Don’t forget, your device uses energy to launch again, so if you’re really slim on power you may be unable to wake it up once you switch it off).

Stop Siri listening – disable ‘Hey Siri’

When you activate Siri (even by accident) it uses a little energy to wake up, listen to you, and then consult the Siri servers for a response (unless it knows the answer on your device).

One way to prevent this is to open Settings>General>Siri and toggle the ‘Hey Siri’ command to Off. You will still be able to summon Siri by tapping the Home (iPhone 8 and earlier) or Side (iPhone X or later) buttons.

Check your battery hogs

Some apps are more addictive than others. By the same token, some apps use more energy than others. Open Settings>Battery and take a look at the Battery Usage by App section.

This shows you which of your apps are using the most energy. In my case I’ve frequently found WhatsApp, Mail and social media to be greedy for my battery power.

When I need to tweak those extra precious moments of battery life I’ve been known to disable the background app activity for the most energy consuming apps, or simply switched on Low Power Mode which has the same effect.

NB: At one time Facebook was the least energy efficient app on my device, but that’s no longer a problem now I only access that service through a browser.

Plan before you go

Being prepared is the best defence.

One way to ensure you always have enough battery power for your device is to use an Apple battery iPhone case (or a third-party equivalent), or use an external battery pack (mophie is popular in the U.S.), carry a solar charging device and/or always ensure you have a power adapter and cable with you when you travel.

I hope these little tips help you get where you’re going without running out of power.

When you get there and charge your device up again, feel free to follow me on one of the social media links below, and if you have any other power-saving tips to share, do drop me a line and I’ll update this story. Travel well!

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.

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iPhone users: Do you love or loathe Quick Share in iOS 13?

I know lots of people who rely on iOS 13 and iPad OS for their business, but they aren’t necessarily getting much from using the QuickShare feature, so why is it there?

What’s wrong with QuickShare?

QuickShare is that first row of names you see when you open up the Share pane from within almost any app in iOS 13.

It is populated by the names of people you have most recently communicated with by Messages and nearby AirDrop shares.

However, the way the Share sheet works is that the far more useful Apps panel, which productivity workers are more likely to need is knocked down the screen, while the potentially even more useful scrolling Actions list is hardly visible at all – you have to scroll to get to it.

So, if I want to take a webpage, tap print, and spread my fingers in order to very quickly create a PDF and then share that with multiple people using an app, I need to scroll down the display to find the tools I need.

It adds friction to what should be a relatively straightforward process.

That’s not the only problem. If you make a lot of calls and send lots of messages as part of your day job, then the QuickShare item quickly becomes useless.

The people and names offered by the feature soon become unwieldy – and given the fast flow of business communications, irrelevant.

I’ve also encountered quite a few people who actively don’t want that list of names to be made visible.

One talent agent friend of mine hates it, as when she tries to share items on her iPhone any person, she happens to be near can see the celebrity names and numbers she has on her device. While we all know the iPhone is the most private and secure mobile device money can buy, it’s still enough to raise concerns about privacy.

‘If you don’t like the feature, you can turn it off’

Apple is usually good about keeping people at the centre of the experience. These days you can even delete most of Apple’s pre-installed apps – but you can’t switch off QuickShare.

  • You can’t edit it.
  • You can’t set it to contain just your most useful contacts.
  • You can’t relegate it to the lowest row on your iPhone so you can easily ignore it.
  • You can’t remove it.
  • You’re stuck with it.

QuickShare is a noise terrorist stealing prime screen real estate when you reach for the precious Share menu. That you cannot adjust it suggests you are not in full control of your iPhone. I see it as the iPhone equivalent of Microsoft’s deeply annoying ‘Clippy’ Office Assistant.

I realized it was time to call time on QuickShare when a friend of mine attempted to AirDrop images with me this morning.

“What is this list of names,” she asked me, knowing I have a little knowledge about such things. “I hate it, it gets in the way – I don’t want to see all those people there, and I don’t know why it’s there,” she said.

She was only saying what I’ve ended up thinking.

The users don’t like it

I know she isn’t alone. Hand on heart I’ve received enough feedback on this feature to believe it to be among the least popular changes in iOS 13.

It gets in the way, reduces the iPhone owner’s feelings of personal autonomy, and reminds us of just how much data our devices gather about us, generating privacy fears.

Such fears may be surfaced in unexpected ways.

Imagine how an abusive spouse might demand to review those connections in order to monitor those who the person they bully communicates with?

People subject to abusive relationships of any kid (with spouse, colleagues, even governments) don’t always have the agency to refuse such access.

Yet the information is there, clear to see, in the QuickShare menu.

The thing that makes it most abrasive is that you as a user can’t edit the contents of or disable this feature. After all, who needs it? You can start a phone call faster by asking Siri to dial your call than using QuickShare.

Not only this, but…

Sharing isn’t really what the Share pane is for

I don’t really see the Share menu as a place for sharing items with other people (though sometimes I use it for that), but as a place for sharing items between apps to get productive tasks done.

I’d like the power to switch this feature off. Or, at least some way to relegate it to the forgotten zone at the bottom of the Share pane where all those useful Shortcut workflows you’ve lovingly crafted currently hide.

Apple doesn’t need to eradicate QuickShare. I can’t help but imagine the feature has been introduced to form some kind of platform for future enhancements, so even though few people like it now, it may one day become something we can’t live without.


It’s over to you, really. I can write what I like, but what do you think of QuickShare? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Do you even use it?

Please let me know on social media below.

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.

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