Face ID on the iPhone is Cool. What About When the Police Use it?

More Details on iPhone 8 Facial Recognition Emerge

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of March 12th
Apple’s Sound Strategy


HomePod with Siri• Neil Cybart, as usual, has presented us with a thoughtful analysis of Apple’s thinking. In: “Apple’s Strategy for Controlling Sound,” author Cybart lays out the history of how Apple has delivered music and why certain decisions were made.

AirPods mark the latest step in Apple’s sound on the go strategy. The device is born out of the belief that there isn’t a place for wires in a wearables world. AirPods were initially criticized for their unusual looks, but those concerns have quickly disappeared. Whereas wireless AirPods may have looked odd to some, having wires hanging out of people’s ears will eventually look out of place.

The author continues to expand on his reasoning to the HomePod.

In addition, the value found with an Echo or Google Home isn’t derived from sound quality but rather from the intelligence of the digital voice assistant that lives in the cloud. This has led the tech community to think Apple misfired by positioning HomePod as a high-quality music speaker.

This logic is at the very core of the HomePod design. The thinking is that Apple is all about delivering a better music listening experience in the home, and that’s a project worth pursuing for the long run. Smart Speakers, like Echo, aren’t designed to deliver a great music experience, and Apple seems to be betting that the wearable AI technology will sort itself out, perhaps even morph dramatically, but great music in the home endures.

As always, author Cybart develops a compelling analysis of Apple’s long range thinking.

More Debris

• The organizations that are lining up against FCC’s reversal of net neutrality is impressive. Those who have file lawsuits include Public Knowledge, attorneys general from 21 states, Mozilla, the California Public Utilities Commission and more. Now, a consolidation of the cases has been ordered and the venue will be the Ninth Circuit court in San Francisco. You can read much more here: “FCC must defend net neutrality repeal in court against dozens of litigants.

• Are you still using a 4-digit passcode on your iPhone? Grayshift has built a box that’ll crack your iPhone’s password in about two hours. It’ll take three days for 6-digits. Jonny Evans at Apple Must reports: “GrayKey iPhone ‘hack-in-a-box’ proves you need complex passcodes.” Personally, I think it’s time to go to 8 character passcodes on our iPhones.

Sony OLED w. HDR
4K/UHD TVs are easy. HDR gets a little trickier.

• Regular readers here know that I have been writing a lot about 4K/UHD TV, Apple TV 4K and one of its related technologies, High Dynamic Range (HDR). In turn, I want to point you to additional reading by Josh Centers, who has written a Take Control Book on Apple TV. He dug into the industry’s (and Apple’s) difficulties with a consistent, coherent delivery of HDR across all our platforms. This is must reading before you buy an Apple TV 4K: “The Apple TV 4K’s HDR Nightmare.

• This next link is neither cause for alarm nor over confidence. It’s simply a very interesting and informative piece about how very experienced experts can hack our systems, despite constant updates from Apple and others. “Safari Exploited Again on Day Two of Pwn2Own.” Here’s the real takeaway:

Hardware and software vendors benefit from the competition by gaining information about vulnerabilities in their software and hardware, and gain the chance to patch this holes before they are widely exploited.

Photo comparison article.
The author presents some amazing comparison photos; you can judge for yourself.

• Finally, it seems that every smartphone maker would have you believe that its camera system is superior to all others. So it’s nice to find one of those showdown tests that does actual image comparions and analysis. Here’s a good one, so you can judge for yourself. “Camera Comparison: iPhone X vs Galaxy S9 vs Pixel 2.” The final winner may surprise you.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

12 thoughts on “Face ID on the iPhone is Cool. What About When the Police Use it?

  • This site can’t make up it’s mind. In this article, John Martellaro expresses fear of government/police using technology. Yet I recall (and just found on Google) in his September 2017 article Andrew Orr talks about wanting government apps and technology to be more widespread.

    As a conservative, I think we need government for some minimal things, but we must always work to keep it as small as possible. And I think this article shows why it should be kept as small as possible.

    1. So maybe John and Andrew (who are, I think, two different people) disagree, or maybe they are/were talking about different uses of technology. Fortunately, you can read both articles and decide which one, or which parts of both, you agree with. Why would we want there to be a fixed TMO perspective?

  • It’s worth noting that there’s a world of difference between facial recognition – a one-time thing – and ongoing location tracking through use of continued face recognition, number-plate recognition, etc. These are invasion of privacy and in breach of Fourth Amendment whereas the one-time recognition is not.

    This is why the long-term retention of facial and number-plate data is dangerous – it opens the opportunity for profiling and tracking.

    1. I agree with vpndev. It’s when the officer (with the glasses) sees you at the corner, and then can see where you were “noted” 25 minutes ago, or last week, or even ever . . . . That’s what is creepy about this kind of surveillance.

  • Facial recognition in and of itself is not an invasion of privacy. Society and the government they build will use whatever means are available to identify threats to citizens. Safety is a concern that prompts people to form societal institutions. The potential for abuse is always present; but that has never stopped societies from using whatever technological advancements are available to police itself. What is good is the friction that exists between rights and the need to police ourselves. This results in a balancing act that the society itself will use to correct actions that threaten this balance.

    1. Who trades privacy for security loses both.

      Liberty vs Security is a false dichotomy. A rhetorical device designed to lead the argument down a false path. Don’t be fooled.

  • Are you still using a 4-digit passcode on your iPhone? Grayshift has built a box that’ll crack your iPhone’s password in about two hours. It’ll take three days for 6-digits. Jonny Evans at Apple Must reports: “GrayKey iPhone ‘hack-in-a-box’ proves you need complex passcodes.” Personally, I think it’s time to go to 8 character passcodes on our iPhones.

    And how soon until someone has a box to crack an 8-digit passcode, a 16?

    1. Decryption has been lost in the security debate. With GPUs doing the heavy lifting these days, estimates about how long it takes to crack encryption are probably B.S. Even so, law enforcement doesn’t want to have to decrypt, they want a backdoor/open slather access without having to do their job at all, just let us in, thanks.

  • Just quickly, facial recognition software for personal use is just that – your own business. No problems there. I was driving a friend’s car and was pulled over because (unknown to me) they had outstanding fines. Even though I was a different gender, I still had to produce evidence I wasn’t the owner of the vehicle or be further detained. Unlikely police resources would have been used to go to this person’s house to collect outstanding fines!! I trust you see the slippery slope here.

    What’s creepy and unethical is ubiquitous surveillance for no other reason than because it can be done. All this user internet data collection, surveillance and facial tracking doesn’t seem to solve much actual crime or terrorism, or even prevent it. The Boston bombers were identified by humans watching surveillance videos. There’s much speculation and justification of data/facial collection supposing one day it will bear fruit, but no concrete examples of this actually working in practice. If challenged, iffy ‘proofs’ will undoubtedly come to the fore, just as FBI spends more time recruiting mentally ill and giving them money to buy weapons to justify their terrorism budget than catching actual terrorists (because there are really very few of them).

    The principle of leaving the citizenry alone unless they’re suspected of a crime is morally sound and even more applicable today than it ever was (let’s call this the privacy principle). It prevents Minority Report mentality – we can predict crime/terrorism based on collected data. It prevents extreme governments of any persuasion (left, right or anything else) trying to silence dissent using ubiquitous surveillance.

    Free Speech is already being redefined as speech I agree with. Proving that we’re already on the dystopian road long predicted – how ever well intentioned the justifications seem. In days gone by, (name your favourite hate group) marched and were ignored as a minority viewpoint, the proper perspective. These days, opponents trying to make political capital (not actually do anything about a particular problem) make a fuss and not only give them a national platform that they couldn’t garner on their own, but create a problem where there wasn’t one before.

    The fear economy is fast pushing society into a needlessly self destructive state, in an awesome demonstration of self-justification. And desensitising the public to the violation of the privacy principle, facilitating the collection of mass surveillance data with no demonstrable benefit, literally out of fear and promises of potentially alleviating it (when only increasing it).

    This is gravely concerning and needs to be discussed, dispassionately and logically before the malaise becomes epidemic.

  • Good comments on facial ID. It’s like how people used to be worried about the massive surveillance being like Big Brother in 1984, but now with camera phones everywhere it’s the police who are under near constant observation. Someday we’ll have access to this tech and use it to scan crowds at protests to see if any anarchists are there to start trouble, or at popular venues to see if anyone you know is also there. As someone who is terrible at names, I personally would use something like this to refresh my memory when a person I don’t recognize waves and comes towards me 😉

    And here’s how you turn the tables on Big Brother:

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