9.7-inch iPad Pro Review by Ars Technica

[ Ars Technica ] Andrew Cunningham:

For instance, the screen’s DCI P3 color gamut (a feature originally implemented in the most recent 4K and 5K iMacs) means it can display deeper and more accurate shades of green and red, but it’s not nearly as impactful as the switch from a non-Retina display to a Retina one or even the switch from the original iPad Air’s non-laminated display to the Air 2’s laminated one. The screen’s brightness goes up to about 500 nits, a nice increase from the 400-or-so nits of the big iPad Pro and the Air 2. However, if you’re not outside or in harsh light, you won’t need the screen to be quite that bright.

The True Tone feature is subtle but easier to appreciate. The screen has “four-channel ambient light sensors” that detect not just the brightness of ambient light, but also the color of that light. This subtly changes the display’s white point, making it more orangey in warm light and more bluish under cool light. This feature makes the iPad’s screen more accurately resemble a sheet of paper.

Okay, let’s summarize what the 9.7-inch iPad Pro brings to the table:

  • DCI P3 Color Gamut means colors are more accurate. If you’re a photographer or a designer who needs color to be accurate, well the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is your best bet when it comes to tablets.
  • 500 nits: We’re sometimes in bright environments when we need to use our iPads, and the added brightness of the new smaller iPad Pro will help. Even more than the increased brightness is the 40% reduction of reflectance. Less reflection helps you see the screen better.
  • True Tone: Now, this is cool. The screen changes colors based on the colors of your environment. It behaves like paper.

Even without the ability to use Apple Pencil, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s screen has enough improvements to be enticing to those who need a portable color-accurate screen.

Foxconn Takes Control of Sharp for US$3.5 Billion

[ Bloomberg ] Pavel Alpeyev, Takashi Amano, and Shigeru Sato:

The parent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is paying 389 billion yen ($3.5 billion) for a controlling stake in Sharp, a drop of 100 billion yen from an agreement forged a month ago. As a result, Foxconn and its affiliates will get 66 percent of the Japanese company for 88 yen per share, both companies said in statements on Wednesday.

Foxconn at the moment is a giant contract manufacturer of electronics products; Apple’s iPhones for example are built by Foxconn. Is Foxconn becoming a vertically integrated consumer electronics brand? That would be interesting.

The world’s CE brands outsource their manufacturing to companies like Foxconn. But what would happen if one of the largest contract manufacturers start to compete with the same CE brands they manufacture for? At half the price? Bloodshed.

Foxconn knows how to make things and make them well; think iPhone-level quality manufacturing, at half the price.

Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter Charges iPad Pro to 80% in 1.5 hours, 12W Adapter Takes 3.5 Hours

[ MacStories ] Federico Viticci:

The 29W USB-C power adapter with fast charging on the iPad Pro isn’t only capable of quickly charging an iPad Pro while its screen is turned off – most notably, it can both sustain and power the device considerably while it’s working hard used at full brightness. The 29W adapter is remarkably consistent in battery gains in a variety of conditions and it dramatically reduces the amount of time required to charge the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro takes a long time to charge: 3.5 hours to 80% using the included 12W power adapter. But use the MacBook’s 29W USB-C power adapter, with a USB-C to Lightning cable, and you get to 80% in just 1.5 hours. You save 2 hours every time for $74 ($25 Apple’s 1-meter USB-C to Lightning Cable + $49 Apple’s 29W USB-C Power Adapter). I think it’s worth the investment, especially if you depend on your iPad Pro all day long.

Oculus Rift CV1 Teardown

iFixit:

  • Two OLED displays with a combined resolution of 2160×1200
  • 90 FPS refresh rate
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer
  • 360-degree headset tracking via Constellation IR camera
  • Horizontal field of view greater than 100º

A combined 2160×1200 pixel format, means 1080×1200 each. According to iFixit each OLED display is 90mm for a resolution of about 456ppi, which means you’ll need to be 8 inches from the display to have a ‘retina’ experience — an experience where you can’t see individual pixels. (Your eyes are not far enough using the Oculus Rift and so you’ll see pixels.)

OLEDs have fast response times and are the only feasible display technology — manufacturing infrastructure, tech maturity, price, etc. — today that won’t make you sick due to pixel lag.

iPad Pro in the Dugout

MLB:

Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced its latest technology collaboration with Apple to integrate powerful new on-field capabilities through the approved use of iPad Pro and a newly developed advance scouting, analytics and video app – MLB Dugout – during MLB games. The announcement, made by Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., brings iPad Pro into all 30 Major League dugouts and bullpens and marks the first-ever on-field integration of next generation technology, putting advance scouting video and customizable reports at the fingertips of all managers, coaches and players.

Entering the 2016 MLB season, each iPad Pro has been customized for each Club and loaded with the MLB Dugout app, allowing every team’s manager, coaches and players to utilize their own proprietary and strategic statistical reports, data visualizations and advance scouting videos during every MLB game from dugouts and bullpens giving them easy access to valuable, actionable baseball insights. Clubs also will have the ability to include any of their own reports with data generated from last year’s first full season of Statcast™ tracking technology, bringing new stats for pitch tracking, hitting, baserunning and fielding, right on iPad Pro.

Managers, coaches, and players need easy and quick access to information that will give them an edge over the competition. It depends on the app’s UX/UI, but in general the iPad Pro has an advantage over Windows-based tablets when it comes to easy and quick.

FBI Says It Has Unlocked iPhone Without Apple

[ The New York Times ] Katie Benner and Eric Lichtblau:

A second law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reporters in a conference call said that a company outside the government provided the F.B.I. with the means to get into the phone used by Mr. Farook, which is an iPhone 5C running Apple’s iOS 9 mobile operating system. The official would not name the company or discuss how it was accomplished, nor would officials say whether the process would ultimately be shared with Apple.

The third-party hack the FBI employed bypassed the iPhone’s security feature that auto-deletes everything when someone enters the wrong passcode 10 times. The iPhone 5c doesn’t have Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint security technology where you put your finger on the iPhone’s home button to unlock it. But even with Touch ID you have the option of flipping the lock screen to the right and entering a passcode.

At that point the third-party hack should presumably work.

There’s a lot of valuable data in someone’s iPhone: keychain data (usernames and passwords), financial apps, iCloud access, health information, etc. I think a while back there were reports pointing to added security features like Touch ID and auto-deletion of data after 10 failed passcode attempts for iPhone theft going down. I think that’s going to reverse course if/when this new hack method gets to the black market, and especially if Apple isn’t able to patch the security hole.

This cat-and-mouse back-and-forth game of securing and hacking used to be between the good guys and the bad guys. It was clear before, but now it’s murky.

Harvard: Smart Windows Using Silver Nanowire

[ Treehugger ] Megan Treacy:

According to the university, “With an applied voltage, the nanowires on either side of the glass are energized to move toward each other, squeezing and deforming the soft elastomer. Because the nanowires are distributed unevenly across the surface, the elastomer deforms unevenly. The resulting uneven roughness causes light to scatter, turning the glass opaque.”

The opacity of the window can be controlled by the amount of voltage applied. A lower voltage creates a small amount of roughness to the elastomer meaning the window would just be a little cloudy, but a much higher voltage would increase the roughness enough to create an opaque window.

In the near future windows will will open and close automatically at the touch of a smart window app, or using an algorithm based on temperature settings, time of day, air quality, etc. Smart windows will of course have the ability to transition between being transparent and opaque. Now the trick is how to make smart windows affordable, easy to install, easy to use, reliable, and easy to fix.

Oh, if I can request one very important feature to the brilliant engineers who are working on smart windows: self-cleaning. Please.

FBI May Not Need Apple’s Help to Unlock iPhone

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

In a new court filing, the government said an outside party had demonstrated a way for the F.B.I. to possibly unlock the phone used by the gunman, Syed Rizwan Farook.

Did the FBI exhaust all of its options before going after Apple? Questionable.

The emergence of a potential third-party method to open the iPhone was a surprise, as the government said more than a dozen times in court filings that it could open the phone only with Apple’s help. The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., also reiterated that point several times during a hearing before Congress on March 1.

Exhaustive is not the word I would use to describe the FBI’s search for a way to hack into the iPhone.

The FBI vs. Apple, Inc. is not over; the Justice Department will come knocking on Apple’s door again, sooner than later. If this outside party is successful at penetrating the iPhone, the black market will soon be flooded with this method/tool, and iPhones will get hacked left and right by criminals and by those in law enforcement. As soon as Apple patches that particular security hole, the FBI will no doubt start throwing punches at Apple again.

PS: I’m looking forward to Apple implementing passcode- and fingerprint-based end-to-end encryption for all of our iCloud data, soon. I don’t mind a little inconvenience for a lot of privacy and security.

The Verge Camera Shootout: Galaxy S7 Edge vs. iPhone 6S Plus

[ The Verge (YouTube) ] Which smartphone has the best camera? I thought it was the iPhone 6S Plus. But not according to The Verge.

  • Speed (launch + take photo): The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is faster. Double-tap the home button launches the camera app on the Galaxy S7 Edge. The 6S Plus requires a power button push, an upper flick, and tap on the camera app. The S7 Edge’s autofocus notices new objects introduced to the frame almost instantly. The iPhone 6S Plus hunts a bit.
  • Lens: f/1.7 front and back for the S7 Edge. The 6S Plus sports a f/2.2 lens. The S7 Edge is brighter and provides more bokeh.
  • Low Light: The S7 Edge bested the 6S Plus.
  • Color: The S7 Edge is sharper with a bit more contrast than the 6S Plus.
  • Slow Motion Video: The S7 Edge gives you many manual settings you can change easily. The 6S Plus not so much.

Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s camera is better than the iPhone 6S Plus’s camera. Want to tune your photos? I do. Photos from the S7 Edge give you more detail to work with, and the folks at The Verge claims the S7 Edge’s camera is about a generation ahead of the 6S Plus. Apple has some catching up to do.