Face ID FUD →

I waited to comment on this article by Alex Webb and Sam Kim from Bloomberg wherein they report on Apple’s supposed production issues with iPhone X because I figured John Gruber would say it best (he did).

The main charge in the original article:

As of early fall, it was clearer than ever that production problems meant Apple Inc. wouldn’t have enough iPhone Xs in time for the holidays. The challenge was how to make the sophisticated phone — with advanced features such as facial recognition — in large enough numbers.

As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation.

Apple refutes it outright, and Gruber’s take on what that means:

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said “Bloomberg’s claim that it reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication. The quality and accuracy of Face ID haven’t changed; it continues to be one in a million probability of a random person unlocking your iPhone with Face ID.”

It is extraordinary for Apple to issue a blanket “this is completely false” statement on any news story. Apple, as policy, no-comments every news story, even when they know it’s bullshit. So either this story is particularly strong bullshit, or Apple is lying, on the record, under one of their own real names (as opposed to the anonymous “an Apple spokesperson” attribution).

Gruber on perceptions of biometric authentication:

People are naturally skeptical about biometric ID systems. They were skeptical about Touch ID when it was still only rumored, just like they’re skeptical now about Face ID. Today, though, Touch ID is both trusted and familiar. So rumors claiming that Apple really wanted to get Touch ID into iPhone X but had to settle for Face ID play into both the skepticism of the new and the comfort of the familiar. FUD is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Check out John’s whole post. He really dives in, speaking to Bloomberg’s track record (and Ming-Chi Kuo’s), plus insights derived from conversations he’s had with actual Apple engineers.

Here’s my take: everyone loves a good controversy, and in the tech world, Apple controversies get the most clicks (whether they are real or manufactured). Some people love to see Apple fail, or even just the perception of Apple failing is enough. Why? I think I have a decent answer.

From where I stand, the public perception of Apple may be that they are some kind of infallible entity. However, until Liam takes over, Apple is still run by humans, and humans are anything but infallible. In other words, writing a FUD article on Apple is especially easy. Should anyone be writing an article like this? I don’t see the constructive point, regardless of the company in which its about. I wouldn’t wish it on Samsung, Google, et al. Rumors are one thing, but this is straight-up FUD.

I have faith in Face ID and think it will be transformational. Apple would have nixed it long ago if they didn’t strongly believe in it.

Clearing up the iPhone ‘FM Radio’ situation →

Rene Ritchie for iMore:

In the wake of the devastation wrought by recent hurricanes and earthquakes, politicians in the U.S. are calling for Apple and other manufacturers to turn on the FM radios that they presume are lying dormant in iPhones and other phones. I really wish — and I suspect Apple and other manufacturers really wish — it was that as simple. But it’s not. And, unfortunately, politicians aren’t often well versed in technology, and they often don’t ask before they soundbite.

Statement from Apple provided to Rene:

“Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products,” Apple told iMore. “Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.”

Rene on older iPhones and other phones:

For older iPhones and other phones, even if it was possible to just “flip a switch” and enable FM on the chipset, significant additional roadblocks remain. Those chips may not be connected in a way that makes FM radio even possible. Assuming they were, changes would likely require an update to the wireless chipset firmware (Apple rolls its own, other manufacturers would need to request updates from Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel, or whichever company manufactured the chip).

It’s a nice sentiment, but politicians don’t know what the hell they are talking about in regards to technology. What else is new, right? I’m increasingly convinced we need way more technology-minded folks in office.