August 9, 2017 brianradio2016

Look to unlock: iPhone 8 might drop TouchID for 3D face scanner

With iPhone growth in the low single digit percentage points, it’s clear that Apple needs the next crop of iPhones to be a big hit, and all eyes will be on the much-anticipated tenth-anniversary iPhone 8 to lead the way over the next decade.

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But can AR, face unlocking, wireless charging, and an OLED display really going to get people to part with more than $1,000 for an iPhone?

See also: It turns out the iPad was just too expensive after all

Thanks to leaks (some direct from Apple) and supply chain chatter, for a product that we know nothing about through official channels, it seems that we know an awful lot about the iPhone 8 (or iPhone Pro, or iPhone X, or whatever it ends up being called).

Rather than go through all the leaks and such (if you’re interested in a more in-depth look at what we think we know about the iPhone 8, take a look here), let’s focus on what seem to be the highlights:

  • A new, bezel-free styling
  • A 5.8-inch OLED display
  • Wireless charging
  • Facial recognition for unlocking (and possibly the beginning of the end for Touch ID)
  • AR (augmented reality) support (through iOS 11 and an AR-ready camera system)

You might be wondering why I put the styling of the new iPhone first in that list. It’s deliberate. I did it because as for some, having an iPhone that other’s don’t have (and likely won’t be able to afford) will be reason enough to put down over a thousand dollars for a smartphone. One of the biggest drivers of iPhone growth has been external redesigns (along with making the display bigger).

It’s a small thing, but it’s something people can understand. Their new iPhone looks different to the old one.

Putting that aside, we’re left with either existing technology that Android users already have access to, and a largely untested technology that may or may not end up being useful to drive sales.

Don’t get me wrong, an OLED display and wireless charging will be a nice addition (and since OLED displays are heavier on the battery than regular displays, wireless charging might be useful here), but the benefit to the end user isn’t going to be as huge. Visually moving to an OLED display isn’t going to as noticeable of a leap as moving to retina displays was, rather it’s just a display that’s somewhat better than what the iPhone already has.

Yes, colors will be more accurate, and lights and darks better represented, but do you hear people complaining about their existing iPhone displays?

No, me neither.

Bottom line, an OLED display is an example of Apple playing catch-up. Not leading the way.

Then we have facial recognition. Yes, again, a cool feature, and one that might result in some interesting apps (assuming Apple opens it up to developers), but is it groundbreaking? Nope.

Which leaves us with AR.

The problem facing Apple with AR is that we know that iOS 11 has support for it with ARKit, and that this will allow developers to bring AR to existing iPhones and iPads because Apple gave us a preview of it at the WWDC 2017 keynote. A preview where people awkwardly held iPads around a table in order to watch a pre-scripted scene play out.

This means that whatever the AR angle for the iPhone 8, it’s at best going to be features that “do AR better,” and not “bring AR to the masses” (because a $1,000+ smartphone isn’t going to be bringing anything to the masses).

That certainly blurs the line between “awesome” and “hmmm, why should I care about this?” tremendously.

I know that iPhone 8 hysteria is hitting fever pitch, but I still think that this handset will end up being little more than a limited-edition, high-priced, low-volume shiny bauble dangled in front of people with more money than sense.

Think solid gold or ceramic Apple Watch. Or iPad Pro.

Remember how the iPad Pro was supposed to reignite iPad sales, and didn’t (the thing that ended up making a difference was, predictably, a price cut ). The real action is going to be in relation to the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. These are going to be the handsets (along with the iPhone SE, or a successor) that really drive sales, and it’s these handsets that we really need to be keeping an eye on.

See also:

August 9, 2017 brianradio2016

It’s still much too early to tell if we’re going to have problems with this month’s Patch Tuesday trove, but one irksome bug has cropped up with the Win10 Anniversary Update cumulative update, KB 4034658 — the one that brings Win10 version 1607 up to build 14393.1593.

When you install KB 4034658, the installer wipes out your Update History (see before and after screenshots).

update history beforeWoody Leonhard/IDG

Update History before

update history afterWoody Leonhard/IDG

Update History after

I’ve seen no acknowledgment of the bug, explanation for it, or any workaround. Your smartest course of action is to take screenshots of any Update History that you wish to retain.

Surprisingly, I haven’t heard of similar bugs in the updates for other versions of Windows 10.

August 9, 2017 brianradio2016

Clearly, Kubernetes is an elegant solution to an important problem. Kubernetes allows us to run containerized applications at scale without drowning in the details of balancing loads, networking containers, ensuring high availability for apps, or managing updates or rollbacks. So much complexity is hidden safely away. 

But using Kubernetes is not without its challenges. Getting up and running with Kubernetes takes some work, and many of the management and maintenance tasks around Kubernetes are downright thorny. 

As active as Kubernetes development is, we can’t expect the main project to solve every problem immediately. Fortunately, the community around Kubernetes is finding solutions to those problems that, for one reason or another, the Kubernetes team hasn’t zeroed in on. 

Here are three new projects emerging around Kubernetes that set out to make the container orchestrator less knotty to deploy, maintain, work with, and oversee.

August 9, 2017 brianradio2016

Google has just moved to a production release of TensorFlow Serving, its open source library for serving machine-learned models in production environments. A beta version of the technology was released in February.

Part of Google’s TensorFlow machine intelligence project, the TensorFlow Serving 1.0 library is intended to aid the deployment of algorithms and experiments while maintaining the same server architecture and APIs. TensoFlow Serving lets you push out multiple versions of models over time, as well as roll them back.

The library of course integrates with TensorFlow learning models, but it can also be extended to serve other model types.

A pre-built binary is available for the software. A Docker container can be used to install the server binary on non-Linux systems.

August 9, 2017 brianradio2016

It has been a decade since the launch of the iPhone, but for developers, it can feel like we’re still trapped in 2007. If you’re doing anything interesting with a mobile app, you run into a pernicious and frustrating reality: Your mobile development experience was in large part determined by the web technologies that preceded mobile and still persist today.

So when we talk about building mobile apps, what we really mean is building mobile apps that interface with server technologies. And that means interacting with a stack that was designed for a world of desktop computers connected with ethernet cables. While the world has moved beyond big screens and wired connections, mobile developers are the ones who have had to accept endless compromises in order to ship the experiences they want.

To ship useful server-side code, you need a lot of novel, domain-specific skills. When a developer builds an app and connects it to the server, data doesn’t just magically start flowing into handy columns and rows. Before you make your first request, you have to deploy and manage those servers. The devops arts that make that possible are getting easier, but they certainly take up a lot of time.

Next, your server has to serialize the data from whatever format (probably JSON) it gets from the request, and then it has to store it in a database that usually understands SQL, and then it has to perform the business logic on that data. It’s going to do all of that in a server-side language, which of course will be different from the Swift or Android Java you use to write your mobile app.

August 9, 2017 brianradio2016

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August 8, 2017 brianradio2016

Mozilla today released Firefox 55 for Windows, macOS and Linux, debuting options to tweak the browser’s performance settings, adding support for the WebVR virtual reality standard and taking a major first step toward dispatching Flash to the Great Software Beyond.

Firefox, which can be downloaded here, updates in the background, so most users need only relaunch the browser to get the latest version. To manually update, click the help icon — the question mark within a circle — after pulling up the menu under the three horizontal bars at the upper right. Choose “About Firefox.” The ensuing page shows that the browser is either up to date or displays the updating process.

Mozilla updates Firefox every six to eight weeks; the last time it upgraded the browser, to version 54, was June 13, or eight weeks ago.

New performance settings

Most users will likely find the new performance settings the most utilitarian of the feature updates. Building on Firefox 54, which used up to four processes to run the browser’s tabs, this week’s version lets individuals adjust that number, to as few as one process or as many as eight. The more processes assigned to tab content, the faster each will draw. The downside: The more processes, the more memory used by the browser.

August 8, 2017 brianradio2016

Eddie and the Tide were a great Bay Area rock band of the early 80s that mixed heartland rock with some new wave flair, much like contemporaries Huey Lewis and the News and Greg Kihn. Over the course of the decade, they released five great albums (the second was produced by Eddie Money), but while their sound got sleeker and sleeker, no doubt for commercial purposes, that mass crossover never quite happened and the band called it quit as the decade was ending. These days, they may be best known for the song “Power Play” which was featured on the Lost Boys soundtrack, which turned 30 last week! Today Steve is a normal working man in Nashville, but he occasionally puts out excellent solo albums. One of my favorite discs of the last five years is his 2014 album The Eddie Rice Project, which is a soulful examination of an up and down life in hindsight. Enjoy!