Tag Archives: IPhone

Apple admits celebrity accounts hacked but denies iCloud breach

Apple admitted that some of its most famous customers’ iPhone accounts were invaded by hackers, as US law enforcement investigates the mass leak of intimate photographs of more than 100 celebrities.

Its central iCloud systems were not breached in the attack, despite claims by the hackers, Apple stressed, averting a wider threat that might have affected all iPhone owners.

Continue reading Apple admits celebrity accounts hacked but denies iCloud breach

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Apple May Do Away with iPhone’s Home Button In 2017

Apple Inc. has been rumored to be making many changes for the future iPhone and the latest rumor suggests that the iPhone to be launched in 2017 will not have a home button.

Bloomberg has released a report claiming that the 2017 iPhone will not feature the iconic home button that has been Apple’s signature for many years. The report goes hand in hand with previous rumors about the design of the 2017 iPhone.

Continue reading Apple May Do Away with iPhone’s Home Button In 2017

Next-gen artificial limbs help amputees grab onto a better life

Even when Adrian Albrich sits still, you can hear the motors in his hand whirring. Bzzzt. Vrrrt. Zyyt. Little more than a month after doctors outfitted him with a new prosthetic left hand, Albrich still fidgets with it, clenching and unclenching, alternating grips, acclimating to the way it feels and reacts.

With spindly metal fingers, carbon-fiber knuckles and black silicon fingertips, there’s no mistaking Albrich’s prosthetic left hand for its muscle-and-bone counterpart, but the things it can do certainly come close. He can grasp a water bottle and twist off the cap.

Pick up a quarter off the table. Hold a tiny finishing nail while he pounds it in with a hammer. He can even view a graph of the electric signals he uses to trigger it … on an iPhone. Try doing that with the real thing.

Though he’s one of the first recipients in the United States to receive one, Adrian’s hand – an i-Limb Digits from a company called Touch Bionics – is part of a growing wave of next-gen prosthetics. Using some of the same advanced technologies that power modern smartphones, these electronic limbs are finally making it out of experimental labs, and changing the way amputees, live, work, and play in the real world.

Twenty-six years ago, at the age of 19, Albrich was working at a sawmill in the little Oregon town of Baker City when a log buckled in a conveyor belt and kicked him into an 18-inch chop saw. The blade chewed through his left hand like one of the area’s plentiful ponderosa pines.

He lost the hand just below the wrist, leaving Albrich’s hand with no fingers, but some remaining movement where his forearm ends – a “partial hand,” in the parlance of prosthetists.

“It could have been much worse,” he says, with the confident air of a man who has long since given up on feeling sorry for himself. An 18-inch saw, after all, can take a lot more than a hand.

The blade chewed through his left hand like one of the area’s plentiful ponderosa pines.

In the nearly three decades since losing his left hand, Albrich has tried different prosthetics, but always arrived back at the same conclusion: They weren’t for him. He abandoned his standard two-fingered “hook” prosthetic when his children were born, for their own safety. And the clumsy replacements that came later left him self-conscious. The early models were always bigger than the hands they were meant to replace. “It felt like I was carrying a pool cue hanging out of my left shirt sleeve.” Albrich says.

Then he spotted the i-Limb Digits online, and Albrich decided it might be worth revisiting prosthetics. “The part that impressed me the most is that it was designed for someone with a partial hand, which no other prosthetic had been in the past,” Albrich says. No more pool cue.

After contacting a doctor in Seattle to see how he could go about getting his own Digits, Albrich ended up at Advanced Arm Dynamics, a Portland, Oregon clinic that specializes in prosthetics for upper extremities, including the advanced i-Limb Digits. Introduced a little more than a year ago, the bionic hand is still so new, the clinic speculates that fewer than 50 people in the United States have one.

Just as faster, smaller, more efficient processors allow our smartphones to get more powerful, more compact and run longer, the same advances are finding their way into active prosthetics. But the results are a lot more dramatic than being able to load Reddit two seconds faster, or snag an extra hour of video playback.

“Electric digits have been around for about 10 years, but the size of the fingers themselves, even over the past three years, has really improved to the point where we can fit them on a much larger percentage of the population,” says MacJulian Lang, the prosthetist who outfitted Albrich with his new hand. “The hand that he’s running, even 15 years ago, would have taken a backpack to run.” Now, ultra-efficient DC motors that move each finger fit right inside them, and the tiny processors and lithium-ion battery packs – similar to what you might find powering a smartphone – hide in a slim wrist strap.

idigits

The prosthesis locks onto Albrich’s partial hand with only suction, a clever approach that prevents the prosthesis from locking up his wrist. “Try picking a glass some time, but keeping your arm straight,” he explains. “You have to manipulate your entire body to get your hand where you want it.” The contortion is not only tiring – it can lead to other injuries, as different body parts get overused.

“It’s kind of re-teaching my body how to operate a limb that hasn’t been there for so many years.”

Inside the cuff, gold-plated electrodes press against the remaining muscles that Albrich would have used with his hand – for instance, the abductor digiti minimi, the hammy part of your hand you would use to move your pinky finger away from your ring finger in a Vulcan salute. Albrich’s brain sends a myoelectric signal down the belly of his muscles, which is picked up by the electrodes, amplified, passed off to the processor, and interpreted to manipulate the hand accordingly. It’s not any more intuitive than it sounds.

idigits-6

“The first half hour or 45 minutes, I didn’t think it was going to be possible,” Albrich says. “It’s kind of re-teaching my body how to operate a limb that hasn’t been there for so many years.”

Training himself to move his remaining muscles was only the beginning; he still needed to memorize what they did. Like the array of buttons on a Mortal Kombat arcade machine, different combinations of triggers can tell the hand’s microprocessor to pull different moves. For example, what seems like the same trigger might alternate between activating a two-fingered pinching grip you would use to pick up a pencil, and the full-hand grip you would use to grab a can of Coke.

After more than a month, Albrich still gets a few surprises. At one point in Lang’s office, his hand threw up a pair of devil horns as if he were at a Black Sabbath show. “I have no idea how I did that,” he says with a laugh.

Software helps manage the potentially confusing array of configurations. When the hand is connected to a computer via Bluetooth, Albrich can see a graph showing the signal from each of his myoelectric triggers tracing across the screen in real time, with a line representing the threshold he has to cross to spark a reaction from the hand.

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He can see the signal from each sensor as he flexes, train his muscles to better control them, adjust the thresholds to prevent accidental activation, and remap which triggers correspond to which grips. I-Digits even makes an iPhone app that Albrich could use to get the same data on the go. But as a diehard Android fan, he’s not interested. “Even my hand is not worth switching over to Apple,” says Albrich. He’s laughing, but it’s not a joke.

People still stop to watch when Aldrich ties his shoes one-handed – a feat that requires no electric digits, and a reminder that he can still get through life just fine without them. But Albrich says he’s still grateful for the doors his 21st century hand has opened. “Doing something as simple as holding onto a potato to cut it, which I recently did, is just amazing.”

Almost every week, Albrich drives more than an hour from his home in Salem, Oregon to get further rehabilitation at Advanced Arm Dynamics – one of the few clinics that offers such extensive follow-up training for prosthetic users. “Every time that we do this, we’re figuring out new things that it can do,” he says, “or new ways that I can apply it to my everyday life.”

“I can manipulate something as delicate as a flower without crushing it,” Albrich adds. “But I can also put a grip on something [so strong] that you couldn’t pry it out of my hand.”

idigits-7

His favorite trick, though, is driving – if only for the shock value it elicits when other drivers cruise by and see a metal fist wrapped around the steering wheel in the car next to them. Though the i-Limb Digits can be wrapped in a silicon skin made to look more like a normal hand, Albrich prefers the utilitarian look of the unmasked components.

“It’s not a real hand. I don’t want the pretense of it trying to look like a real hand,” he says. Besides, the Terminator look has its own perks. “It’s a great conversation starter. I deal with people for a living, so it suits my needs.”

Although Albrich’s I-Limb Digits are on the cutting edge of commercially available prosthetics, they still have their limitations. Namely, sensation.

idigits-5

Without any feedback from the hand to his brain, Albrich’s only idea of how tightly he’s gripping something comes from visual and audio cues, like a water bottle crinkling under force. “It’s kind of like wearing a really thick glove: You have a basic idea of where you hand is and what it’s feeling.”

“I can manipulate something as delicate as a flower without crushing it.”

The next major leap in prosthetics, direct neural integration, would solve that. By wiring sensors into the hand that connect directly to the brain, a prosthetic limb could both move when a user tells it to, and let him know when he’s made contact with it.

“My guess is within five years, there’s going to be clinically applicable ways to provide that sensation, that sense of touch, back into that feedback loop, so people have a knowledge of where their fingers are and what they’re doing,” says Lang. “It’s one of the things that makes upper-limb prosthetics in some ways frustrating but in some ways really exciting: We’re still just scratching the surface.”

Scratching the surface or not, Albrich remains continually impressed by what his humble electronic limb can do.

“This is really just a spectacular little tool,” he says, cradling the Digits. “I keep referring to it as a tool, but it’s more than that to the person that wears it. It’s just amazing what it can do.”

Iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

new york city-based photographer sam alive uses his iphone to capture landscapes and scenes through a digital lens.

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the images describe both blurry backdrops and crisp scenery, set within the confines of the iphone screen.

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the environments that frame each photo are unrecognizable, reduced to colors, patterns and geometric shapes.

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sunsets, urban streets and ocean vistas are only barely perceptible through the chroma they display.

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juxtaposing the hazy setting is an in-focus hand, holding a device at the foreground of the images. within the screens,

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

a sharp picture materializes — the new york city skyline, the brookyn bridge and portraits of people in the distance.

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

iphone photography by sam alive reveals hidden landscapes

Make International Phone Calls from your Mobile even without the Internet

How do you make international calls from your mobile phone? Mobile carriers often charge exorbitant rates for international phone calls but you can Internet based services like Skype or Google Hangouts and call any landline or cell phone number in the world for a low per minute fee.

All you need is a mobile phone connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot and some credit balance in your account for making the phone call.

You can use these VoIP apps when travelling overseas as well and make significant savings for both domestic and international calls.

Now consider a scenario where you have a mobile phone but there’s no Wi-Fi around and the 3G/4G services are either slow or unavailable.

Would you still be able to place calls through any of these apps? The answer is obviously in the negative but there’s at least one app that has figured out a unique solution to this common problem.

The app, known as Ringo, lets you make international calls from your mobile phone but “without” requiring the Internet. It does so by cleverly converting your request to dial an international number into a local number.

Let’s say you are trying to call someone in Singapore from India. When you make a call through Ringo, the app will internally dial a local number in India.

At the other end in Singapore, it will again make a local call to the desired number and will connect these two calls using their own infrastructure. This process is transparent to the end users though it make few seconds extra to initiate the call.

International Call Rates – Comparison

Here’s a chart comparing the voice calling rates (in cents per minute) for all the popular voice calling apps. Ringo not only allows you make international phone calls without 3G or WiFi but it is cost-effective too.

Skype Viber Ringo
Callback
Ringo
Wifi
Google
Hangouts
USA 2.3 1.9 1.2 0.2 Free
India 1.5 2.2 1.9 0.9 1.0
UK 2.3 5.9 1.4 0.4 3.0
Russia 2.3 7.9 12.5 11.6 12
Brazil 3 19 3.6 2.6 6.0
China 2 1.3 1.6 0.6 1.0
Singapore 2.3 1.9 1.4 0.4 2.0

In my testing, I found the voice quality good and the app automatically figures out all the international numbers in your phonebook.

 Also when open a contact inside Ringo, it will show their current local time and this little detail does help save a trip to Google.

Is Ringo a replacement for Skype or Google Hangouts? Well, yes and no. With Ringo, you do not need the Internet to make phone calls but you still need a local number.

In the case of Skype, you do not need a local number but you have to be connected to the Internet.

Also, Ringo is mobile only while Skype lets you call telephone numbers from Mac and Windows PCs as well.

Ringo is available for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone.

New Instagram Collage App Lets You Take Wild Mirrored Shots

Instagram’s new collage app, Layout, lets you take neat mirrored shots. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

INSTAGRAM’S LAST STANDALONE app, Hyperlapse, made it possible to take striking steadicam-style videos on your smartphone. It was an awesome creative tool and an impressive technical achievement.

So it would be understandable to be a little bit, well, underwhelmed to hear that the latest creation to emerge from the Instagram laboratory is… an app for making photo collages. Thankfully, it’s cooler than it sounds.

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In addition to the usual collage stuff. INSTAGRAMGallery Image

Layout, available today for the iPhone, lets you painlessly arrange smartphone shots in all sorts of configurations. It’s far from the first app to do this, but a handful of thoughtful details make it especially easy to use.

Beyond those, it has some novel features, like the ability to flip images within compositions to create surreal mirrored shots, that make it an interesting creative tool in its own right.

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Its UI makes it easy to experiment with how photos are arranged. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

Why build a collage app in the first place? For one thing, they’re popular. According to Instagram, one in five users already stitch photos together with some application of the sort.

There’s something satisfying about packing small things snugly into boxes, something any fan of the Container Store knows well.

As Instagram’s designers saw it, though, existing collage apps left room for improvement.

For example, upon launching these apps typically give you a slew of grids to choose from. Layout displays your pictures right away instead.

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And by stripping out the borders between the individual photos, you can come up with some neat effects. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

This decision was based on a simple insight: People want to pick photos and experiment with different ways to combine them, rather than being forced to pick a grid and and then shoehorn pictures into it.

The app further facilitates quick experimentation with a split-screen design, which lets you you swap photos, resize them, and adjust your composition without jumping through a bunch of different menus.

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You don’t need an Instagram account to use it. INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

The app doesn’t let you put borders around individual photos within a composition—a choice made in the name of a cleaner-looking final product.

As one of the app’s designers explained, they wanted to avoid the “scrapbook-y” look that some kitschier collage apps embrace.

You can post your compositions to Instagram or Facebook, or just save them to your camera roll; you don’t need an Instagram account to use the app.

Gallery Image

Layout’s workflow is nice and speedy, but more interesting are the new types of collages it encourages users to explore.

The coolest is the mirrored shot. By placing two copies of the same image in the frame and flipping one of them, you can create seamless psychedelic portraits, dreamlike landscapes, and all manner of other kaleidoscopic compositions.

The app’s other neat feature is called photo booth. It takes four pictures in rapid succession and automatically stitches them together.

Looks like Interstellar! INSTAGRAM Gallery Image

The result is a different type of collage than we’re used to seeing, one that’s more about condensing time than simply reorganizing space. It hints at a story within a single frame.

The photo booth feature is also noteworthy in that it asks users to think of Layout as a place you go to create new images, not just an app you use to process ones you’ve already taken.

The mirror effect, too, will likely produce its best results when shots are planned ahead of time. It amounts to something a little more ambitious than a typical photo collage app.

While its main utility may be packing pictures into tidy little boxes, Layout also brings a few new prompts for thinking about mobile photography, and that’s never a bad thing.

The Next Great Gold Rush: Apps and Accessories for the Apple Watch

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Every time Apple modifies a connector, changes a form factor, or launches a new gadget, it impacts countless companies.

There’s a robust third-party market for anything and everything that attaches to or wraps around the iPhone, one that’s constantly adapting to the evolving shapes, sizes, and specs of new handsets.

Now that the Apple Watch is official, we’re going to see an entirely new frontier of accessories and apps.

It’s fitting that even as Apple announced the Watch, it killed the iPod Classic. The iPod was the device that created the initial wave of third-party iAccessories, from alarm clocks to speaker docks and, of course, protective cases. So many cases.

With those add-ons, the iPod became more than a music player. It became a music hub. By plugging it into a secondary device, you could expand the capabilities of both.

In the pre-iPhone years, iPod accessories were a billion-dollar business. Nowadays, add-ons and cases for smartphones generate at least $20 billion in revenues, according to an ABI Research report.

As Apple’s devices have grown more sophisticated, so too have the accessories available for it. There are, for example, countless lens accessories and video rigs alone now that the iPhone is the most frequently used camera in the world.

So what about this new watch? Sure, it has Siri and heart rate and motion sensors. And a really cool UI. But it doesn’t have a camera, it doesn’t have a headphone jack and there aren’t any connectivity options. In fact, beyond its magnetic induction-charging surface, it doesn’t appear to have any physical I/O ports at all.

Strapped for Cash

On the surface, that may suggest far fewer accessory opportunities, but the margins on something like a premium watchband almost certainly are higher.

Apple has an MFi licensing program that blesses Apple-approved accessories with a special badge, although cases and Bluetooth components aren’t included. The Apple Watch could have a similar licensing program, but the lack of electronic interfaces on the watch suggest it won’t.

Watches always have been fashion items, and swappable bands are an obvious accessory for the Apple Watch. You can bet we’ll see some from high-end brands, in exotic materials. Although Apple may cut into sales of conventional watches, companies that make watch accessories will profit from Apple joining the game, says Thomas Lathrop, owner of premium watch-strap maker Crown and Buckle.

“It brings a whole new level of customers that are not typical ‘watch customers’,” Lathrop says. “It stems from the success of the iPhone. What [Apple] could do to the smart wearable market could transform it.”

Despite the opportunity to enter a new and potentially lucrative market, Lathrop says he’ll take a wait-and-see approach. That’s borne of more than a desire to see how successful the Apple Watch might be. Few third-party companies have had any hands-on time with the watch, so accessories must be reverse-engineered to suit its specs once it hits the market.

“THE REVENUE POTENTIAL IS THERE. WE’RE ALREADY THINKING ABOUT LEATHER OR WOOD VALET HOLDERS AND CHARGING CABLES. WE ARE ALSO EXPLORING WRIST STRAPS COMPOSED OF LEATHER, WOOD, AND OTHER UNIQUE MATERIALS.”

Not everyone is ready to anoint the Apple Watch a cash cow. Although Apple touts the Watch as its “most personal device” ever, Roma Industries CEO Paul Horowitz says, in the realm of watches, it may not be personal enough. Roma Industries owns Hadley-Roma, which manufactures high-end watch accessories.

“[There’s a] dual market for utilitarian and fashion timepieces,” Horowitz says. “The real question will be if society has transformed to the point wherein technology trumps all other desires. In my opinion the watch as we know it, with complications or without, will continue to be something people aspire to, and something that changes as they change, being part of who they are. It sets them apart from the person next to them.”

For established iDevice accessory companies, too, the Apple Watch is a different beast. For case maker Incase, the fact that the Apple Watch is wearable is an obstacle: Watches don’t need cases.

“It’s an interesting piece,” says founder and CEO Tony Held, a watch collector. Held says Incase doesn’t want to make Apple Watch accessories for the sake of making Apple Watch Accessories. It wants to create something “meaningful,” something that adds value to the device. “It’s got to be thoughtful, not whimsical,” he says. “We need to understand the user interface and how people will interact with it.”

To that end, Brian Holmes, founder of Pad & Quill, a small company that makes high-end leather cases and bags for iPhones and iPads, says his team is studying how consumers can personalize the new wearable.

“The revenue potential is there, as quality timepieces have historically had various accessory options,” Holmes says. “We’re already thinking about leather or wood valet holders for the Apple Watch and charging cables. We are also exploring wrist straps composed of leather, wood, and other unique materials.”

Given that the watch also is a fitness tracker, some sort of fully waterproof case could be a must-have for swimmers and others who play on the water.

And we’ll probably see belt-loop clips and other ways of wearing it on the body like a Withings Pulse or Fitbit One. Swapping bands will be a snap, but the slide-and-lock grooves that secure it to the case are a purely mechanical interface.

The band doesn’t interact with the watch’s internal components, so we aren’t likely to see a battery-charging band. That said, you can bet third-party wireless charging docks will be everywhere.

The Main Appeal

But the main appeal of the Apple Watch likely will come through its built-in accelerometer and bite-sized third-party apps. Though the watch will have its own suite of fitness apps, Apple will share workout data with other apps.

The accelerometer will be used to do more than track fitness, too: Apple hinted you’ll be able to control the Apple TV with it. Down the line, that kind of wrist-mounted motion sensor might be used for everything from Leap Motion-like iPad or Mac navigation to a means of moving through Oculus Rift games.

Apple demoed a few native apps that could pave the way for third-party development. The “Astronomy” watch face, which shows daily moon phases and planetary positions based on the date and time, is an example of what to expect.

There certainly will be a slew of watch-optimized apps that display customized sports schedules and scores, offer “this day in history” info, and allow you to customize your watch face. It’s another way to add your own style to the watch—to the extent Cook & Co. will let you, as Misty White Sidell noted in Time.

The Watch will have a remote-viewfinder app for the iPhone camera, so expect the major photo and video services to add sidecar apps that roll their own features and controls into the watch. Just as the iPhone has become a universal remote for many devices, the Apple Watch could become a next-level  controller for the iPhone, iPad, TVs, and games.

And it is destined to become a vital part of Apple’s HomeKit initiative, both as a manual controller and as a device that can automatically adjust devices based on your movement and vitals.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Apple’s new timepiece, which goes on sale next year. We do know that you’ll be able to use it as an Apple Pay device, a key in Starwood hotels, or a wrist-mounted dashboard for your BMW.

But you can bet people will want to accessorize it, and developers will want to capitalize on it. A boom in those markets is a sure thing.

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