New iPhone X May Be Susceptible To Burn-In

<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-7088″ src=”” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ />Apple’s new iPhone X is a technological marvel that boasts the best display in the industry today, featuring Super Retina OLED display technology and offering a mind boggling 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem, as revealed by a new support document the company released on the iPhone X. In it, Apples states that users may experience shifts in hue and color, and burn-in with the new display, especially if they maximize the phone’s brightness and keep the same image displayed for long periods of time.

According to the support document itself:

“If you look at an OLED display off-angle, you might notice slight shifts in color and hue. This is a characteristic of OLED and is normal behavior. With extended long-term use, OLED displays can also show slight visual changes. This is also expected behavior and can include ‘image persistence’ or ‘burn-in,’ where the display shows a faint remnant of an image even after a new image appears on the screen. This can occur in more extreme cases such as when the same high contrast image is continuously displayed for prolonged periods of time. We’ve engineered the Super Retina display to be the best in the industry in reducing the effects of OLED ‘burn-in.'”

The company also recommends a simple workaround users can employ to minimize the chances of this occurring. If it’s something you’re concerned about, simply adjust your phone’s brightness as follows:

• Go to Settings, and then into General
• From General, tap Accessibility, and then Display Accommodations
• Adjust to taste from there

Another simple thing you can do would be to set your phone to auto-lock after a shorter period of time. To make changes to that feature:

• Go to Settings
• From there, select Display &amp; Brightness
• Then, go to Auto Lock and set whatever time period you deem appropriate

While neither of these are perfect solutions, they will certainly get the job done for the overwhelming majority of users.

More Bad News For OnePlus Phone Users

OnePlus phones have been getting plenty of bad press lately, thanks to malicious apps found to be factory-installed on a percentage of the devices, along with some intrusive data collection features the manufacturer has installed. As it turns out, though, the story gets worse.

Recently, a security researcher going by the alias “Elliot Alderson” discovered a factory-installed application called “Engineering Mode” that can perform a series of intrusive hardware diagnostic routines, and can even be used to root the device. What’s worse is that security flaws in the app make it easy for hackers to exploit.

Alderson believes that the likeliest scenario for the existence of the Engineering Mode application is that it was a diagnostic app installed and used at the factory to test OnePlus phones prior to shipment.  Somehow, the app was never uninstalled after the initial testing was completed, exposing OnePlus users to extreme danger of losing control over their devices and any data stored on them.

According to Alderson, all a hacker would need is physical access to the phone. Once he has it in hand, one simple command is all it takes to root the phone. Other researchers have independently verified Alderson’s findings. Since he first published them, the company has admitted their mistake and promised to remove Engineering Mode from all OnePlus phones in a future update, although no ETA has given for when that might occur.

If you currently own and use a OnePlus phone, be aware of this and use with caution. Keep on the lookout for the update from the manufacturer which will remove the “feature” for you, but if you’d rather not wait, you can go into the phone’s settings and manually remove it.

Physical security of smart devices has always been vitally important, but in the case of the OnePlus, that’s doubly true. Keep it close!

Touch And Vibration May Be The Fingerprints Of The Future

Researchers at Rutgers University have hit upon a novel idea that could be a game-changer in terms of biometric identification. The team published a paper entitled “VibWrite: Towards Finger-input Authentication on Ubiquitous Surfaces via Physical Vibration,” and demonstrated a prototype of the device at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conference in Dallas, Texas.

The new technology is a lesson in simplicity, consisting of a simple vibration motor and a receiver on most any solid surface (wood, metal, plastic, glass etc.). The motor sends vibrations to the receiver, and when the user touches the surface, the vibration waves are modified, creating a unique signature.

By itself, this isn’t terribly remarkable or exciting, because a single finger touching the surface in question doesn’t create a signature that’s unique enough for individual identification. On the other hand, combining that basic idea with the act of drawing a pattern or entering a PIN on a vibrating surface would create patterns of sufficient complexity to identify individual users, and that’s where the real magic is.

It should be noted that at this point, the technology isn’t ready for mass production, and the research team estimates that it’ll probably be another two years until it is. Among other things the group still needs to improve are:

• Accuracy – There’s not much more to be done on this front. The current model is 97 percent accurate, producing only three percent false positives. However, that last three percent is crucial.

• Sensitivity – At present, the most persistent complaint associated with using the new technology is that users often have to re-enter the PIN, or retrace the pattern multiple times before they can pass the device’s authentication checks.

• Weather – Ideally, these devices could be placed everywhere, but in order for that to become a reality, they’ll need to be tested in a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels, which hasn’t been done yet.

All in all, it’s an exciting new technology with tremendous possibilities. It’ll be interesting to see how well it is accepted by the market.

Always Connected Laptops Could Be The Next Generation Of Hardware

What’s the next big thing for the PC world? If the industry’s major players have anything to say about it, it will be the “always-on” PC.

Forget about plugging into your company’s network. Forget about free WiFi Hotspots. With an always-on PC, you won’t have to worry about either. If they’re not available, your PC can connect via the same cellular data network your smartphone uses, which means you’ll always be just a few mouse clicks away from your data.

It sounds fantastic, but there is, of course, one giant wrinkle in the equation: cost. More specifically, although several major hardware manufacturers are planning to sell always-on PCs soon, nobody knows how much the data plans will wind up costing in the longer term.

A few telecommunications companies have already given some indications here. T-Mobile has announced that its ONE unlimited service will be available for $20 a month. AT&T’s rates are significantly higher, charging $30 a month for 3GB of DataConnect data, and Verizon is charging $10 a month per gigabyte of data.

Depending on how much data you’re working with, that can get expensive very quickly. You could easily wind up paying more on your data plan than the PC itself set you back, and that’s before taking into account what impact the recent reversal on the Net Neutrality policy may have going forward.

One thing’s for certain: carriers won’t be able to get away with charging too much for the service, or customers will simply opt not to play the game, preferring to continue to flock to free WiFi hotspots as they’re doing now.

The first always-on PCs will start shipping in 2018, at which time we’ll find out how anxious the market is to embrace the new feature, and what kind of premium they’ll be willing to pay for it. Stay tuned.

Fitness Trackers Could Be A National Security Risk

If ever there were two phrases that didn’t seem to go together, they would probably be “Fitness trackers” and “National Security Risk.”  The very idea that a simple fitness tracker could pose such a risk seems laughable on the surface, but this is no laughing matter.

Recently, a popular fitness tracking app called “Strava” published a heat map, which displayed the activity of its massive user base from around the world.  In all, the heat map contained more than a billion activities, tracking every jog, bike ride, walk, swim, downhill, and other activity that users opted to log.

Unfortunately, this app is a favorite of military personnel, and when the heat map was published, researchers made a disturbing discovery.  In logging their physical activity, military personnel gave away the locations of their (sometimes secret) bases.

Although the data was stripped of personally identifying markers before being loaded onto the map, other researchers have been able to de-anonymize the data, tying individual activity routes to specific people.

From a national security standpoint, this is disturbing on two levels.  First, of course, is the fact that the locations of supposedly top-secret bases could be discovered so easily, and by something as innocuous as a fitness app.

Second,  and every bit as disturbing, is the fact that since it has been demonstrated that the data can be de-anonymized. This means that enemies of any existing government  can accurately locate key personnel.  Armed with an activity map that establishes a “reliable pattern of life,” it can use that data to plan carefully orchestrated attacks against specific individuals.

Needless to say, the presence of apps that know so much about us and our precise whereabouts is going to require a total rethink by government agencies around the world.  One has to wonder, how many other unintentional side effects will we see in the months and years to come?

Some Smartwatches May Be Able To Diagnose Diabetes

That smartwatch you’re wearing might save your life.  Literally.

A new study conducted by the University of California San Francisco, and a healthcare startup called Cardiogram revealed that smartwatches and other wearables were able to detect diabetes in previously diagnosed patients an impressive 85 percent of the time.

The study monitored health statistics of more than 14,000 smartwatch wearers (both Android and Apple) over the course of several months.  All health data that was collected was fed into a deep neural network which compared the collected data to samples taken from people both with, and without diabetes.

Obviously, while 85 percent is good, it falls short of greatness.  Then again, the AI routine (dubbed “DeepHeart”) is still in its infancy and is all but certain to continue improving over time.

That’s important, given how many people in America have diabetes.  It is estimated that there are more than 100 million Americans who either have the disease or who are prediabetic, and many of these haven’t been diagnosed yet.

Given these results, and in a bid to further improve DeepHeart’s accuracy, the company plans to incorporate the AI into the next update of its app on both iOS and Android platforms.

All that to say, if you currently have and wear a smartwatch or other wearable, it may help you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.  This is the bleeding edge of a segment of the market that is only just beginning to emerge.  At this point, it’s so new that it would be difficult even to say it’s in its infancy.  Although we can’t know for certain what new revelations and advances wearable technology will bring to the medical field, based on what we’ve seen so far, we can say there will be a bunch of them, and they’ll all be exciting.

If you’ve been considering getting one but haven’t yet, this is a pretty solid reason to do so.

5G Cellular Service Is Beginning To Roll Out

AT&T has big plans for their future and yours.  If they’re your carrier of choice, and if you live in the cities of Dallas, Atlanta, or Waco, then you stand to be on the cutting edge of the changes the company has in store. Those locations have been selected to be the first to receive AT&T’s 5G network upgrade.

Often, whenever a new technology is touted, you hear the phrase “this changes everything” associated with it. However, after listening to an AT&T spokesman talk at length about the capabilities of the new 5G network, the phrase is much more than just hot air and wishful thinking.  From the sounds of it, it really does change everything.

Here’s what a company official had to say on the matter:

“We are working with our vendors on an aggressive schedule to help ensure customers can enjoy 5G when we launch the network this year.  We will add more 5G-capable mobile devices and smartphones in early 2019 and beyond.

After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G–and do it much sooner than most people thought possible.

What this means for our customers in these cities is that they will be the very first to access this next generation of wireless services.  The experience we’ve gained by leading the industry transformation to network virtualization and software control will help our customers to get the most out of 5G.  Ultimately, this means new experiences with augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), future autonomous cars and delivery drones.

In order for these new experiences to become reality, you need mobile 5G powered by SDN and edge computing.  We’re making the cloud smarter, faster, and local.”

By all accounts, there are exciting times ahead.  If you’ve been thinking about switching to AT&T, this might be a good reason to do so.

Windows 10 Gets iTunes App For Apple Users

Apple promised that its iTunes app would be available on the Microsoft Store by the end of 2017.  The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm, but unfortunately, the company didn’t meet their own deadline. They cited the need for more time to build a more robust user experience for Windows users.

The wait is finally over, and its big news, because some Windows 10 machines can only download apps, and prior to this, iTunes was offered as a standalone download only.

The app is fairly sizeable, weighing in at 476.7MB, and is compatible with both x86 and x64 PCs.

A recent Microsoft blog post had this to say about the announcement:

“Now you can download iTunes from Microsoft Store and easily play your favorite music, movies and more – right from your Windows 10 PC.  iTunes is also home to Apple Music, where you can listen ad-free to over 45 million songs and download your favorites to enjoy without using WiFi.  iTunes is free to download, and you can try Apple Music free for three months.  There’s no commitment, and you can cancel anytime.”

One thing to be aware of is that if you already have an older version of iTunes installed on your machine and you download this app, it will automatically replace your older version.  It is recommended, therefore, that you back up your data before downloading the latest.  While it does offer a better user experience, it’s not worth the loss of your existing library of files.

Kudos to both Apple and Microsoft here. Apple for bringing an excellent free app to the Microsoft Store, and Microsoft for continuing to play nice with their longtime rival, and allowing their massive user base the pleasure of enjoying a portion of Apple’s wonderfully robust ecosystem.

Apple Users Are Getting Group Facetime

Apple’s Legions of users love FaceTime, but there’s a problem with the highly popular app.  It only allows you to see and talk to one person at a time.  Apple fans have been clamoring for Group FaceTime for almost as long as the app has existed, and soon, they’ll get their wish.

Beginning with iOS 12, Group FaceTime will finally be “a thing,” allowing you to simultaneously talk with up to 31 of your contacts.  Even better, the new functionality will allow you to turn any iMessage group chat into a group FaceTime session, and switch back to iMessage at will.

Don’t want to be on camera in a group setting?  Apple has an answer for that too.  The company has announced that when Group FaceTime is rolled out, you’ll be able to place an Animoji over your face, or apply one of several different photo filters to disguise you. This is because they know that some days, you just might not feel “camera ready.”

At the end of the day, Group FaceTime is probably going to be a lot like tabbed browsing was for many users.  Until you try it, and until it’s readily available, you won’t truly appreciate its value. Once you try it for the first time, it won’t be long before you’re unable to imagine life without it.  It’s a cool, indispensable addition whose time has come.

Kudos to Apple’s loyal fan base for keeping Group FaceTime on the radar, and kudos to Apple itself for finally listening to their customers and giving them what they want.  While we could quibble that they took longer than we’d like to make this feature a reality, in the end, they listened.  That is the essence of business, isn’t it?  Giving your customers what they want.

Are Lasers The Answer To Completely Wireless Computing And Charging?

Researchers at the University of Washington just might change the face of computers and computing forever.  It may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but based on their research, the day may soon be coming when computing devices are completely un-tethered, requiring no wires for either power or recharging.

The team was able to successfully charge a smartphone from across a room using nothing more than lasers.  Right now, their approach has an effective range of about forty feet.  Devices are detected by way of acoustic “chirps” which occur below the threshold of human hearing.  Once a target device is located, the laser charging system sends power to them using laser light, with no damage to the target device.

Right now, the power transfer is limited to just a couple of watts. However, the researchers don’t see any obstacles that would prevent scaling of the power transfer, meaning it could easily be modified to power PCs.

Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) is not a new idea.  In fact, it’s in use today in such things as smartphones and electric toothbrushes.  The problem, at least until now, has been a matter of range, which has been virtually nonexistent until the University’s game-changing experiments.

The big breakthrough wasn’t in sending power to a device via laser.  Scientists have known that was possible for quite some time.  The issue though, was that when lasers (or microwaves) were used to send power, they were invariably hazardous to humans in the area. In addition, they often fried the electronics they were attempting to power.  The research team seems to have solved for both of those problems.

While the technology is still quite some distance from being commercially available, this is a huge leap forward.  This could forever change the way we interact with our computing devices, and that change could come much sooner than anyone ever imagined.