Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘apple watch’ Category

Khashoggi’s Watch

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I’ve been following the disappearance and possible (likely) murder of expat Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey with both horror and fascination.

When I read that Turkish newpaper Sabah wrote that Khashoggi’s Apple Watch may have provided evidence by Turkish officials of his murder, I paid even closer attention.

Could Khashoggi have activated a recording app on his Apple Watch, which was, in turn, connected to the iPhone he left in the car with his wife, and then have had that recording automagically uploaded to his iCloud account?

A report from CNBC pointed out some holes in Sabah’s story which bear following up.

First, they point out there’s no fingerprint sensor on the Apple Watch, so Sabah’s report that the Saudis attempt to delete the audio recording using Khashoggi’s fingerprint to unlock the Apple Watch wouldn’t be viable. The Apple Watch is unlocked with a passcode.

Also, the Apple Watch typically remains unlocked as long as the wearer keeps it strapped to their wrist after inputting the passcode.

Second, CNBC reports that the Sabah report indicated the audio recording was sent to Khashoggi’s iPhone from his Apple Watch, but if he left his iPhone with his fiancee outside the Saudi consulate, it would likely be difficult to maintain a Bluetooth connection to send the audio recording data to that phone.  

The rate of data transfer between Bluetooth 4.0 devices can be up to 25 Mbps, and though the signal can work through walls, the more objects in between the devices, the less overall range. The general range for Bluetooth 4.0 is up to 300 feet, so depending on how close his fiancee’s car was to the actual room where Khashoggi was allegedly being dismembered, the file might or might not have been transferrable back to his iPhone.

If you were thinking perhaps Khaoshoggi was wearing an Apple Watch that has a cellular data connection, CNBC points out that that particular model of the Apple Watch is incompatible with cellular networks in Turkey.

Finally, even if Khashoggi used an app to record from his Apple watch, Apple doesn’t actually ship the watch with a recording app.

So, he would have had to use one of several third-party apps that enable audio recording on the watch, and Apple’s privacy rules require such apps to display a red indicator on the watch a screen while it’s recording audio.

Anyone who looked at the watch would likely know they were being recorded. Of course, it’s certainly possible someone unfamiliar with the Apple Watch might not know what that big red button meant. But an alleged 15 highly-trained assassins?

Which leads me back to a hypothesis shared with me via a former member of the U.S. military. The Sabah Apple Watch story was very possibly a smokescreen published by Turkish intelligence intended to protect its own sources and methods.

Meaning, the Turkish government most likely had that Saudi consulate bugged to high heaven, so it’s very likely they do know if there was a murder and dismemberment taking place there. 

But suggesting via an open source record like a Turkish newspaper that such knowledge came in via an Apple Watch versus a well-placed bug is a very convenient way to let the world know that the Turks had that information, without really letting the world, and the Saudis, know exactly how.

Whatever the role these technologies did or didn’t play, the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi has evolved into an international incident.

Just this morning, The New York Times reported that President Trump said that he spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia and that “the ruler denied any knowledge of what happened to a missing Saudi dissident journalist [Jamal Khashoggi].”

Yet, Trump indicated he would still be sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudia Arabia later this morning to meet with King Salman.

No word yet on whether or not Secretary Pompeo will be wearing an Apple Watch!

Written by turbotodd

October 15, 2018 at 11:03 am

Close Those Circles

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As goes Wichita, so goes Wichita Falls.

Reuters is reporting that one of America’s oldest and largest North American life insurance firms, John Hancock, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones.

Reuters story indicates that policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app.

Presumably that doesn’t include buying pints of Chocolate Häagen-Dazs.

Privacy and consumer advocates have already raised the alarm, wondering whether insurers like John Hancock could use the data to select for more profitable customers, and penalizing those who don’t close all their Apple Watch circles every day.

And you thought it was just a cool digital watch you could show off to your friends!

Written by turbotodd

September 20, 2018 at 10:16 am

More Wearables

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Happy Friday.

If you’ve been curious about the growth of the wearables market, IDC has some fresh-off-the-press research that was reported yesterday by VentureBeat.

The headline is this: Apple has taken a “decisive” lead away from rivals Fitbit and Xiaomi, garnering 21 percent market share for the 4th (holiday) quarter, and 15.3 percent share for the year.

IDC reports Apple sold 8.0 million Apple Watch units in the fourth quarter, far surpassing Fitbit’s 5.4M and Xiaomi’s 4.9M.  Including they, and other players with lesser market share (Garmin, Huawei), the 2017 holiday quarter for wearables was up 7.7 percent YOY.

In other words, the category is growing at a healthy clip. ; )

Written by turbotodd

March 2, 2018 at 9:26 am

Posted in 2018, apple watch, IoT, wearables

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Apple: Biggest Watchmaker in the World?

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Apple hasn’t exactly been forthright about the sales volume of its Apple volumes.

But with a little digging from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and some publicly released shipment stats from the Federation fo the Swiss Watch industry, we’re seeing a little more sunlight on the Apple Watch sundial.

According to a report from Business Insider, Apple is, in fact, now one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

Canalys’ most recent sales estimate suggests that Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry last quarter, about 8 million during the holiday quarter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did have this to say about Apple Watch sales volume on February 1:

“It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch with over 50% growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

Time to put to rest the notion that the Apple Watch has no momentum (sorry, couldn’t help myself…too much time on my hands!)

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 10:54 am

Posted in 2018, apple watch

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Tweet More, iPhone Less

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Having trouble writing everything you want to write on Twitter in 140 characters or less?

Well, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen feels your pain and wrote that “We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).”

This feature will be available to only a small number of users for now (and it wasn’t clear at press time if President Donald J. Trump would be included in the pilot).

For my money, Twitter has always been about less being more. I have to “cram” all the time, and I avoid sending episodic Tweets at all cost. Call me old school.

In the meanwhile, over on the sidelines, Facebook has just inked a multiyear deal with NFL to distribute game highlights and other content, and in return, NFL Films will produce content packages for Facebook Watch.

It was unclear at press time whether Mark Zuckerberg would be standing or kneeling.

If you just feel like hitting the open road with not a care in the world, you might want to keep an eye on Ford and Lyft’s new partnership to develop and test autonomous vehicle designs and technology. The destination: To put Ford’s cars on Lyft’s networks. No comment yet from G.M., one of Lyft’s biggest investors and partners.

Could be very awkward out there on the autonomous Route 66!

And as if Apple needed any more production headaches after their recent and marvelous launch shindig? First there was a software issue with the Apple Watch Series 3 which caused the Watch to connect to unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks instead of handing off to LTE.

Then there was news that there have been production issues with the new Face ID componentry that has something to do with manufacturing yields for the “Romeo” modules (the “Juliet” modules are producing just fine, but hey, you can’t have a Juliet without a Romeo. That’s just bad Shakespeare…and juju!)

And now, the iPhone 8 has a “crackling” earpiece that’s disrupting the audio experience when people try to make phone calls.

To which I ask, who makes phone calls using an iPhone anymore??

 

Written by turbotodd

September 27, 2017 at 9:13 am

All You Need is Love…and $999

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Well, I was able to make my way through the entire Apple keynote today LIVE (via streaming video) from the new Steve Jobs Theater on the also new Apple Park spaceship-like campus.

The opening video was clever, as it showed people walking into the new theater for the first time ever. Accompanying the walk-in video was The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”

Yes, all you need is love, and $999, if you wish to purchase the new Apple X (pronounced “ten,” not “ex”) 64GB iPhone, whose new features include an A11 Bionic neural engine chip, a first-of-its-kind OLED screen, and a new Facial ID security feature that makes Touch ID obsolete and has a 1 in a million (according to Apple) chance of being hacked.

No doubt, it’s a gorgeous new smartphone, and yes, it’s being released in the 10th anniversary year of the original iPhone’s introduction. But unless you’re really excited by the novelty of the Face ID authentication or the “Super Retina Display” or the increased speeds and feeds of the A11 bionic neural networking chip, then this particular “one more thing” may just be that.

Apple also introduced the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which also come with the A11 chip, which is optimized for 3D games and Metal 2, paving the way for Apple’s coming Augmented Reality onslaught. Both the iPhone 8 devices and the X will now be charged via Qi-standards based wireless chargers, which apparently will create a new cottage industry of 3rd party opportunities for the likes of Mophie.

For me, the upside surprise came with the new Apple Watch Series 3, one which has built-in LTE and gets us closer than ever to Dick Tracy-land. In fact, the demo involved the presenter making a live Watch-to-Watch call to another Apple employee who was out on a body of water somewhere paddle boarding. Thankfully, she didn’t fall in while on camera, but the new Apple Watch working as a phone with no iPhone in sight was, well, a welcome sight. Too bad I just bought a Series 1 earlier this year!

In terms of software, I should have known better — there wasn’t much on offer for what clearly was an Apple fall hardware announcement. There were some cute new animated emojis using the Face ID tech: “animojis.” The Apple Watch includes some new heart monitoring capabilities, including the ability to monitor for atrial fibrillation (if your heart is fibrillating, put down your Apple Watch and call your doctor, FAST!).

My favorite was what looks to be a killer new AR game called “The Machines” where you can point your iPhone 8 (but what about my SE??) and shoot stuff with your friends.

And if you *were* awaiting news about the new iOS 11, Apple indicated it would be available for download starting a week from today (September 19th).

As for buying new stuff, I’ll stick with my year-old Apple iPhone SE for now — it still has a headphone jack I can actually plug stuff into, even if I do have to … first world deep sigh … plug it in as well every night to charge the thing. Oh, the horror….

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

What I’m Looking For In Today’s Apple Announcements

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In a phrase, not much.

First, I’m excited about seeing the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s new spaceship HQ.

Second, while I *am* interested in seeing the specs, speeds and feeds of the reported Apple X and iPhone 8 models, I’m not sure there’s anything transformative that will appear (maybe the presumed "Face ID" facial recognition will be interesting).

The new LTE-enabled Apple Watch? Well, I waited two years to buy the Apple Watch, and Apple told me it had to be tethered to my iPhone and that for my watch to work, I would have to carry my iPhone everywhere I go.

So I did. And I do!

The new Apple TV…meh. I already got one and I hardly use the thing, and I don’t think 4K support will be the kickstarter.

Which leaves us with…what?

Software.

I’m looking to see how the software changes and improves.

I’m looking to see if Siri is getting smarter and more usable.

I’m really looking to see if iOS 11 delivers on some needed improvements…a new, designed Control Center (for better shortcuts and preferred app settings)…Document scanner in Notes…Drag and drop with the iPad…Instant Markup with the Apple Pencil (through a variety of apps)…In short, I’m looking to see if the iPad Pro could actually start me down the road to using the iPad as an MBP replacement.

Other than that, I don’t expect much. : 0

Don’t get me wrong, because I am, indeed, invested heavily in the Apple ecosystem.

But in the past I’ve also bought into too much hype of these types of announcements.

So rather than drool over my screen like a fanboy ready to wait in line for the iPhone X until next February, I’m instead looking for some serious progress on the software front.

Siri, are you listening?

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

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