Returning to U.S. With iPhone? What Are Your Rights?

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Border/Customs inspection

When returning to the U.S. from travel, border agents may select you for various reasons for a more detailed questioning. Your smartphone may be requested. You may be asked to unlock it for agents to inspect. What are your rights in this case?  Two interesting articles at The New York Times and ars technica go into considerable legal detail about what might happen if you refuse to cooperate. The links and more are on page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris.

Oodles of Money to be Made Confusing the Consumer

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Confused computer user

At least one TV maker collected and sold your viewing habits. The secure operation of a modern smartphone baffles many. Secret assaults on our systems are cloaked in deception.  It’s a full-time job keeping up with the latest invasions of privacy. One way to perpetuate that process is to keep people busy with videos and fully distracted while staying under regulatory radar.  Friday’s Particle Debris opens with Vizio’s collection of viewing data and continues with links on page 2 about how ignorant people are of browser tracking.

You Can Never Be Too Thin. Unless You’re a MacBook Pro

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MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

MacBook Pros have been getting thinner and thinner. From an aesthetic, handling, weight and evolutionary standpoint, thinner is better. However, when does an unhealthy obsession with thinness interfere with great engineering? Is a MacBook Pro that’s too thin get in the way of features, performance and adequate ports? Would two extra millimeters of thickness enhance battery life enough to make the pro customer smile with enthusiasm?  When does the obsession stop? John elaborates on page 2 of Particle Debris.

Apple’s Tortoise Races Amazon’s Hare for Home Automation Dominance

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Home automation

Apple has chosen to take a steady, if slow, approach to home automation focusing on licensing, security, and no high-profile, fixed device like Amazon’s Echo & Dot. As a result, Reuters author Stephen Nellis observes: “Still, it’s not clear whether Apple’s elaborate but slow-to-develop system will have enough advantages to overcome Amazon’s widening lead.” The discussion starts on page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris.

When Should a Robot just Say “No!”

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I, Robot (the movie)

Should there be occasions when advanced AI’s, especially robots or androids, refuse a command by a human being?  Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (mostly) dictate the rules, assuming the robot has been programmed with that in mind.  However, there are nuances worth further discussion, and they depend some very sophisticated, nuanced thinking (and predictions) by the robot. It’s all on page 2 of Particle Debris.

 

A Broad, Consensus Critique of Apple in 2016

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Apple CEO Tim Cook during Mac

At sixcolors, Jason Snell writes: “As we close the door on 2016, I thought it would be useful to look back at the year gone by and ask a panel of my peers who pay attention to Apple and related markets to take a moment and reflect on Apple’s performance in the past year.”  What’s interesting about this report is that these are some of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic writers covering Apple. And the consensus grades, except for the iPhone and Apple Watch, aren’t all that great. Check it out on page 2 of Particle Debris.

Asking the Important Questions About Apple for 2017

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The Apple Crystal Ball

One can per into a crystal ball and try to predict what Apple will do in 2017. Or one can generate a wish list of things personally hoped for. Far better, however, is to ask some very astute questions about Apple going into 2017. Great questions are valuable guides for analysis as we go along. This is just what Neil Cybart has done. The discussion is on page 2 of last week’s Particle Debris.

The Artificial Intelligence Arms Race Is On

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AI concept

It’s easy to fall into the notion that Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents are intended only to speak to us, HAL 9000 style—to inform, analyze and guide via conversation.  But today, AI agents are being used for many behind the scenes activities. For example, cancer research via IBM’s Watson, autonomous cars and better human language translations. As a result of the enormous impact AI can have, in the many forms of human interactions, “Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and the Chinese firm Baidu — have touched off an arms race for A.I.” There’s more discussion on page 2 of Particle Debris.

PSA: iOS 10.2 Sets Live Photo to Always On

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Live Photo active in the iOS 10.2 Camera app

Apple’s iOS 10.2 update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch add new emojis and fix several bugs—and it also forces Live Photos to on by default. If you’d rather not go all Harry Potter with every photo it’s easy to change the Camera app’s behavior. Follow along with TMO’s tip to learn how.

Building Apple’s Ecosystem and Milking the iPhone

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Apple CEO Tim Cook during Mac

What are the proper metrics for evaluating Tim Cook’s performance?  Should he be graded as a product visionary? Should he be graded as a salesman for the Apple life?  Neil Cybart argues that neither of these is correct. Instead, Tim Cook should be judged on how well he’s built up the Apple ecosystem with products and services. That necessarily means milking the iPhone for all it’s worth. Particle Debris page 2 has the discussion.

Apple’s Brisk Moves to the Future Could Damage Important Revenues

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Fast lane into the future

Apple’s Mac business alone amounts to $23 billion annually. Jean-Louis Gassée reminds us that’s as much as the annual revenues of the Northrop Grumman Corp. That’s not something to take lightly. Also, a defocus from Apple branded displays and routers could simply drive customers into the arms of the competition in other closely related product areas. Even computers. Rene Ritche calls it the “Horn Effect.” Page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris has the conversation.

The Surface Studio Reviews Have Arrived, and They’re Very Positive

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Microsoft Surface Studio PC

According to CNET, “Microsoft’s ambitious love letter to creative professionals is the touchscreen iMac of your dreams.” That’s the Surface Studio, and the reviews, which are now starting to appear in print, back up the original assessment that this is a beautiful, functional, innovative computer for creative professionals. While not perfect in the first version, it has the capacity to cause these professionals to take Microsoft much more seriously in this market than before.  Page 2 of Particle Debris sizes up this challenge to Apple.

Why Absolutely Secure Encryption is Essential for a Free People

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Cyber security graphic.

There’s a huge difference between a guaranteed secure communication and one that is feared to be compromised.  In the former, people and governments are truly free to share and negotiate. In the latter, suspicion and fear color all conversations and stymie progress. And it always seems that encryption compromises to catch the bad guys end up being justified against political enemies as well. This article at The Guardian makes the case for absolute privacy, using WhatsApp. It does so in a very direct, compelling way in the context of international diplomacy. It’s all on page 2 of Particle Debris.

Apple’s Hit and Miss Affair with TV

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4th gen Apple TV with Siri

It almost seems that time has passed Apple by. Back in 2012, the 3rd gen Apple TV with 1080p support was a decent little set-top box. Since then, the TV industry has raced forward. Content providers have developed new delivery modes and strategies, and the broadcast and display technologies have advanced as well. Apple, however, seems to have frittered its time away and failed to advance its vision and its hardware. In fact, Yoni Heisler at BGR makes the case that Apple has no idea what it’s doing. The discussion is on page 3 of Particle Debris.

The Secret Future for Apple’s Touch Bar

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Touch Bar Retina MacBook Pro with USB-C ports

Apple’s revolutionary Touch Bar on the new, 2016 MacBook Pros required a lot of engineering development. It uses an ARM sub-processor and a variation of watchOS. But most importantly, it forms the basis for a new system architecture, according to Apple SVP Phil Schiller. It could create things heretofore not even envisioned. Particle Debris page 2 points to an exclusive C|NET interview with Mr. Schiller who explains why it took four years to develop.

The Apple and Intel Affair. An Excedrin Headache

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Concept of Macintosh, MacBook Pro with OLED strip

History will probably record that the delay in Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro/Air involved the development of some new Apple technologies getting out of sync with Intel’s CPU/GPU roadmap. First, we know that Apple elected to skip a CPU generation, waiting for Skylake with Thunderbolt 3 support. Recently, a leaked Intel roadmap and some analysis of the integrated GPU cycle explains why Apple may have to wait again until 2018 for it’s next major refresh. Particle Debris page 2 explores Apple’s Intel headache.