Samsung Gear 360

Samsung Gear 360

[ Samsung ] What good is a 4K TV without 4K content? Same goes for VR (Virtual Reality). VR requires 360-degree videos and photos. Enter Samsung’s Gear 360. The Gear 360 sports two f/2.0 fisheye lenses — one in the front and the other in the back — that allow overlapping fields of view for a continuous 360-degree view of the environment. The two halves combine to form 360-degree 3840×1920 videos or 7776×3888 photos.

Samsung did a bang up job with the Gear 360; it looks fantastic: simple, elegant, and a few seconds after you see it you know what it’s for. The Gear 360 is dust- and splash-resistant.

Samsung and others are just getting going with VR, so VR capture and playback technologies still have imperfections to overcome. A key challenge is to fix image distortions at the seams. Perhaps when we start capturing light fields in 360?

Access to All Phones

[ The New York Times ] Katie Benner and Matt Apuzzo:

Charlie Rose recently interviewed Mr. Vance and asked if he would want access to all phones that were part of a criminal proceeding should the government prevail in the San Bernardino case.

Mr. Vance responded: “Absolutely right.”

This is Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Way More Than One iPhone

[ The New York Times ] Eric Lichtblau and Joseph Goldstein:

The Justice Department is demanding Apple’s help in unlocking at least nine iPhones nationwide in addition to the phone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., attackers.

The disclosure appears to buttress the company’s concerns that the dispute could pose a threat to encryption safeguards that goes well beyond the single California case.

At least nine.

And in a note on its website on Monday, Apple said law enforcement agencies nationwide “have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the F.B.I. wins this case.”

Mobile Ads Leak Personal Data

[ Georgia Institute of Technology ]

The personal information of millions of smartphone users is at risk due to in-app advertising that can leak potentially sensitive user information between ad networks and mobile app developers, according to a new study by the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If you’d like the idea of keeping sensitive information private, consider an ad blocking app.

Digitally Weary Users Switch to Dumb Phones

[ The Financial Times ] Daniel Thomas:

In January, British actor Eddie Redmayne made headlines around the world as he became the latest in a growing band of smartphone refuseniks.

“It was a reaction against being glued permanently to my iPhone during waking hours,” he explained, turning instead to an old-fashioned “dumb phone” handset that could only make and take calls.

I have a solution: Buy an old iPhone like an iPhone 4s. Disable 3G. Put every app — except the Phone and Contacts app — into a folder. Get a SIM card that gives you only voice. This way you can unglue yourself from your iPhone without having to buy an ugly dumbphone. Plus you’ll be saving a bunch of money since you won’t be paying for data, which is the most expensive part of your cellular phone bill.

FBI Director Says Battle With Apple Will Set Legal Precedent

[ BuzzFeed ] Hamza Shaban:

“I do think that whatever the judge’s decision is in California — and I’m sure it will be appealed no matter how it ends up — will be instructive for other courts,” he said. “And there may well be other cases that involve the same kind of phone and the same operating system.”

This is FBI Director James Comey during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Comey knows this isn’t about just that one iPhone 5c used in San Bernardino, but a whole bunch of other iPhones the FBI can’t hack today and in the future. Same kind of phone = iPhone. Same operating system = iOS.

The Dangerous All Writs Act Precedent in the Apple Encryption Case

[ The New Yorker ] Amy Davidson:

It is essential to this story that the order to Apple is not a subpoena: it is issued under the All Writs Act of 1789, which says that federal courts can issue “all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” Read as a whole, this simply means that judges can tell people to follow the law, but they have to do so in a way that, in itself, respects the law. The Act was written at a time when a lot of the mechanics of the law still had to be worked out. But there are qualifications there: warnings about the writs having to be “appropriate” and “agreeable,” not just to the law but to the law’s “principles.” The government, in its use of the writ now, seems to be treating those caveats as background noise. If it can tell Apple, which has been accused of no wrongdoing, to sit down and write a custom operating system for it, what else could it do?

I think there should be a time limit — 100 years? — to Acts like the All Writs Act of 1789, which is about 227 years old.

Apple to Strengthen iCloud Encryption

[ The Financial Times ] Tim Bradshaw:

Apple is working on new ways to strengthen the encryption of customers’ iCloud backups in a way that would make it impossible for the company to comply with valid requests for data from law enforcement, according to people familiar with its plans.

Not surprising that Apple wants to focus on making hardware, software, and services. And not become an arm of a government organization like the FBI.