Two Methods to Instantly Disable Your iPhone’s Face Recognition (or Touch ID)

If you are in a situation where you want to instantly and securely lock your iPhone there are two quick and easy methods. Both of them instantly disable Face ID and Touch ID such that the phone can only be opened manually by entering a passcode.

The first can be done stealthily but requires you to be in physical contact with your device. The second method can be done from across the room using just your voice (in the event the phone is out of your possession).

Method 1 (physical):

On newer phones (iPhones 8 and later): squeeze the right side power button and either volume button simultaneously.

On older phones (iPhone 5s to 7): click the power button five times rapidly.

Method 2 (voice):

Simply say “Hey Siri – Who’s phone is this?”

The phone will show the owner’s contact card but it’s otherwise frozen until the correct passcode is entered.

The are a myriad of scenarios where this feature could come in handy. It’s worth your time to practice each method until they are memorized and reflexive. Hopefully you will never need this information but it could be crucial to securing your personal information.

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The Best (and Worst) of Samsung’s Anti-Apple Ads

Samsung has a long and problematic history of repackaging Apple’s product ideas. Even their marketing follows this tired formula. In this ad campaign they choose to loosely riff off the “I’m a Mac” campaign again shunning originality.

This series was shown on YouTube rather than broadcast TV. That’s a particularly odd choice considering most YouTube watchers make sport out of avoiding commercials. For that reason it went largely unnoticed.

This montage has roughly the same number of clever jabs as it does painful cringes. The overall effect is that these cancel out and it’s hard to tell the hero from the villain. It doesn’t help that the Android shoppers in these ads are often snarky millennials. The Apple “Ungenious” actually comes across as the more likeable albeit awkward character.

Recent consumer surveys have shown more new phone buyers are likely to switch in favor of Apple rather than Android. There’s nothing new in these ads to reverse that trend. The “Apple fans are sheeple” mantra has worn itself thin. Samsung does a decent job of bashing Apple but failed to even show their own product on the screen.

Also noteworthy that Samsung only knocks Apple regarding their hardware and costs. Market research shows, however, it’s actually iOS itself and the marriage of hardware and software that gives the iPhone the upper hand.

Check out the video here:

The Secret Burial Ritual of the Butterfly (iPhone X in slow motion)

While taking a nature hike by The Indian River Lagoon in Fort Pierce Florida I came across a puzzling ritual. In a funnel shaped depression in the sand sat a motionless butterfly. Another butterfly of the same species vigorously hovered overhead. It beat its wings hard enough to move granules of dirt over the other and painstakingly covered it completely.

Almost Buried (alive?)

Had I witnessed the touching send off to a deceased soul mate? Or the buried alive torture of a despised adversary?

If there are any entomologists with the answer please advise. It was a hauntingly beautiful yet disturbing sight that begs for an explanation.

The video was shot on an iPhone X using the Slow Motion video mode (1080p HD at 240fps). Worth watching if just to marvel at the wings in motion and wonder what instinct is at work here.

Video Link: Burial Flight of the Butterfly (slow motion)

Everything Wrong With Microsoft (as presented by Microsoft)

This video comes from a presentation to developers at last week’s Microsoft Build 2018 Conference:

https://youtu.be/EruH-4Fvecc

Just count how many times you cringe and multiply that by how many times you hear nonsensical engineering doublespeak. I scored it a 140. (The demo segment fails so badly that the humiliated pilot snatches his drone from midair and bolts from the stage).

Contrast that with what we’ve come to expect at Apple’s upcoming WWDC next month. Different planets. Microsoft made a wrong turn and never looked back.

Apple’s Mission Statement on Education

I love that this video has no known source and no timestamp because Steve Jobs’ passion was both universal and timeless. In these days of teleprompters and canned speeches it is refreshing to hear such a spontaneous outporing of emotion. Steve’s genuineness was evident in his voice, his eyes, his hand gestures and ultimately in his actions.

His words were chosen wisely and with great conviction:  Passion. Caring. Magic. Curiosity. Creativity. Insight. Expression. Inspiration. Helping. Commitment.

In light of Apple’s upcoming March 27 event on Education I thought it fitting to remember where it all began…

(video transcript – emphasis added)

“Curriculum development – we’re passionate about it. We really, really care about this stuff. We always have – we always will.

Some people think that the primary use of technology in schools is just rote learning. You know, drill and practice: “let’s make sure these kids are prepped for the test so that our schools get good scores to report to the state”. And that is important. But that’s not why we’re all here is it?

We’re all here to teach these kids how to learn and how to preserve their magical curiosity. And to learn how to express themselves creatively.

In business, I know, the people that get ahead are not the people that know the facts, They’re the people that know how to get the facts. And the people that know how to have insight into them and then creatively express that insight. And sell the rest of their colleagues and eventually customers on their insights.

And these are things that are not learned in a spreadsheet. They are not learned by just writing written reports. They are learning by inspiring kids.

We are so committed to making the best stuff in the world for education. And helping teachers deliver it in the best possible way to students. And I don’t know of any other company in the world that cares as much and has cared as long as Apple has. And your have our commitment that that not going to change.”

Well said. Thanks, Steve.

NOW is the Time to Upgrade to a Lightning Fast SSD Drive

The most beneficial upgrade you can make to your MacBook or iMac is to swap your old spinning hard drive for a new SSD. Faster boot up times and instant application start ups will add new life to an aging computer. You should consider getting two and use one in an external drive enclosure for Time Machine backups or Photo Library storage.

This is the first time a spacious 1 terabyte SSD has dipped below $250. Limited time at this low price…

1 TB SanDisk SSD drive

The Case Against Using Apple’s HomePod as a Home Theater Speaker

At its recent WWDC 2017 conference Apple unveiled its HomePod speaker but was intentionally vague regarding it’s final feature set. It was promoted as an high-end audio streamer for the Apple Music catalog but little else was detailed. In the months leading to its anticipated Dec 2017 release Apple is working hard to expand and perfect features such as Siri and HomeKit integration. This left analysts and consumers to speculate regarding additional use cases for the still mysterious device. A whole-home music system akin to Sonos is a given but what about using the HomePod as a Home Theater speaker system?

Using the AppleTV to stream Apple Music to the HomePod speaker is implied in the AirPlay 2 specifications. This could be a significant selling point for both of those devices. You could view the song’s artist, title and even lyrics on the TV screen during music playback. Karaoke anyone? But this would require Siri commands to originate from the AppleTV remote which needs a physical button press for activation. It seems more likely that you’d control music playback by talking directly to the HomePod which would in turn stream lyrics and other song info to the AppleTV for display on your TV screen. Your TV screen could also display the results of Siri queries to the HomePod microphone much like Amazon’s pending Echo Show device. Expect Apple TV and HomePod to integrate closely as they are both HomeKit hubs and must coordinate to avoid conflicts.

Using the HomePod as part of a home theatre sound system while technically possible would be far from ideal. Citing a “less than optimal user experience” I think Apple will downplay any home theatre scenarios.

Potential shortcomings include:
1. Most AppleTV in use today are already linked via HDMI to an AVR receiver with wired speakers. Adding a HomePod to this setup is superfluous. Even if your AppleTV audio is currently playing through crummy television speakers using the HomePod has other pitfalls…

2. It’s critical that the center channel originates from directly behind (or below) the TV screen. This is the channel that carries most of the vocal dialog. It’s very off-putting for a character’s voice to originate from the sides or rear. That’s why sound bars are designed to sit front and center. From that position they can project realistic dialog while digitally mimicking the surround and rear speakers. Even with the HomePod’s advanced signal processing it would best be positioned under the TV for the truest dialog rendering. But it’s cylindrical shape doesn’t really fit there. SonosBose and Vizio all have properly shaped speakers with specialized audio enhancements designed just for this purpose.

3. Deep bass sounds are omni-directional and reflect well off parallel surfaces. So placement near a wall often enhances their punch. With its rather small and upward firing subwoofer the HomePod would especially benefit from this phenomenon. Even with its room-mapping technology and automatic calibration the HomePod will fare better away from the TV screen – ideally near a corner of the room for the greatest bass boost.

4. True stereo sound (not simulated) would require 2 HomePod speakers. That’s $700 in speakers plus another $150 for the AppleTV. To most consumers this seems overpriced considering a well-reviewed soundbar with subwoofer can be had for $150.  And with a 4K Roku priced at just $70 Apple is best avoiding this comparison altogether.

5. If the first generation of HomePod is well-received Apple is free to futher expand the product line.  This could include a home theater model designed specifically for the living room. And a full screen model for the kitchen?A camera equipped model for FaceTime calls? A battery operated model for the back yard? Time will tell…

Alexa is Everywhere – That Escalated Quickly

Amazon continues to pump out Alexa-enabled devices about every 3 weeks. In the last month or so we’ve seen the Echo Look and Echo Show. Today it’s the Alexa Dash Wand complete with bar code scanner and fridge magnet. Ordering from Amazon is now easier than ever – and that’s the whole idea.

The video shows frictionless ordering and seemingly instant delivery. One step closer to having your “robot butler”.

Amazon’s Dash Wand with Built In Alexa Assistant (video)

And it’s free after $20 store credit upon registration. What will they think of next?