By now, if you’re interested in tech, you’ve probably seen a video or two of the iPhone X being unlocked by someone’s face that isn’t the owner. Apple said it was more secure than Touch ID, at least twice as secure, so what gives? There are a few factors at play here. It involves the machine learning Apple uses to make Face ID work, Face ID’s limitations on children, and, unfortunately, some really bad news for anyone with an identical twin (especially if they’re an evil twin). To answer your biggest question, no, Face ID isn’t easily compromised, but there are steps you may be unintentionally doing that are making you more vulnerable. Here’s an explanation of what’s happening, and how you can ensure your phone is secure.
Fair warning, macOS and iOS users, you’re going to be a little mad at Apple for this, but I’ll wait until the end to explain why. Firefox Quantum has been in beta for a few months now, and I finally decided to take it for a spin about a week before release. Currently, I’m putting together a browser comparison, one that will show real world performance, benchmark performance, memory usage, and battery life impact, on both my 2010 MacBook Pro (representing older hardware) and the 2015 MacBook Pro I have from work (new hardware) but that’s going to take some time. Perhaps before you read that, you’ll want to try out Mozilla’s latest and greatest browser for yourself.
Firefox Quantum was designed to be a modern browser, made to meet current expectations of what a browser should be and take us to the future, a complete revamp of Firefox and the web browser itself. After using it for about a week now, I love it, and, as such, I’m once again pissed at Apple.
Another locked smartphone, another garbage reason for demanding access, and another FBI screwup that made this all possible. Either the FBI is woefully incompetent, incapable of getting into a phone (let alone protecting this country from domestic threats), or they’re intentionally screwing up in order to create demand for a precedence that would let them destroy personal security. In the past, the FBI has stated that they’re more interested in setting up a precedence than getting into these devices.
Let’s back up, what are we talking about here? We’ll start by going back to December 2nd, 2015. That’s the date of the San Bernadino attack where 14 people were killed and 22 injured. This started a long and frustrating attack on personal privacy and even free speech from the FBI. The FBI was trying to get into the shooter’s work phone—an older iPhone 5c with reduced security—despite evidence that the phone had nothing of use for them on it. They botched their attempts to log in, preventing Apple from helping them to bypass the encryption by doing a backup to their servers, which they could then decrypt. After locking the phone themselves, the FBI then laid the blame on Apple, saying they should be forced to make a backdoor through encryption for law enforcement. However, this is a multifaceted problem. 1) Creating such a back door would destroy security on all smartphones, through precedence to force other manufacturers to create these backdoors and through leaks. The lack of encryption would put people in the U.S. in danger of having their phones stolen or hacked, would put people living under an authoritarian regime in trouble, women and minorities, especially, and it would hamper our ability to secure devices for politicians, diplomats, and other targets for hacking from foreign entities. (Of course, after Comey’s attack on Hillary Clinton during the election, maybe he was pro-Russian hacking all along.) 2) Forcing Apple to write software would be a violation of the company’s employees’ right to free speech. Software is protected free speech, and this would be the government forcing a company to create a worse product, something that should have horrified “small government” Republicans. It did—for the most part—not upset them, but, as the party leans more authoritarian than traditionally conservative, and with a few allies on the Democrat’s side, like Barrack Obama, such intrusions on individual rights are becoming more common.
In Texas, a man who shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun was able to do just that, skirting gun control laws due to Air Force’s refusal to enforce necessary gun control through accurate reporting. The shooter then took that gun and went to his mother-in-law’s church, killing many people inside. The FBI got ahold of his phone, botched entry again, and, despite knowing that the man was a domestic abuser with a history of violent and loosely targeted attacks, not a terrorist with a network or help, the FBI is still insisting that the just need to get into the phone.
The FBI’s starting to sound like a child begging for an expensive toy they’ll likely break on Christmas Day: “But please, U.S. citizens, can we please violate your constitutional rights and privacy?”
Greenpeace takes companies to task over their lack of commitment to the environment. They’ve rated a number of popular electronics manufacturers in three main categories, energy, resources, and chemicals. Energy is easy to understand: a good rating means renewable energy sources used with low or no emissions in the production and sale of a product. Resources is what’s needed to make the product and sustain it over its lifetime. This includes the rare earth metals in smartphones, whether or not the materials used are recyclable, and how long the devices can last without needing replacement. Finally, there’s chemicals. This is the use of hazardous materials in the manufacture of our devices. There’s a reason you can’t just throw an old phone out. Besides the fact that it can mostly be recycled, there’s also toxic materials within these devices that can be released if damaged or burned, as people who work in recycling plants may have to do. Performing well in all three categories makes the planet safer and lowers the human cost of creating the electronics we take for granted every day. Apple didn’t score the best, they received a ‘B-,’ with Fairphone, a company that prides itself on designing phones to be as ecologically green as can be, taking the top spot. What could Apple be doing better?
The past few weeks have been rough for me. I’ve been apartment hunting, packing, and moving. On top of that, I stayed up until 4 AM last Friday to pre-order the iPhone X. Refreshing my Mac’s browser as well as both my iPad’s and my iPhone’s Apple Store apps, both on and off my WiFi. I was going to be one of the first people in America to order the iPhone X. Or so I thought. None of my devices loaded the page until around 3:07. By then, the earliest I would receive my iPhone X would be on November 17th. So, instead of typing this with an iPhone X sitting next to me, I instead am looking at my boring old iPhone 6s. I’ve got to wait at least two more weeks to write my own review. Since, by then, it’ll be 2 weeks late, I’ll likely use it for a week or two before reviewing, so I can give a detailed review of the phone that accounts for everyday use. I’ll even be able to compare it to the Samsung Galaxy S8, so look forward to that review and comparison in a few weeks.
Until then, I’ve collected information from a number of reviews to answer some of the big questions about the iPhone X.
Abortion is a touchy subject because both sides of the issue feel as though their values are being attacked at their core. To these people, the choice is freedom and control over one’s own body or religious faith and consequences for one’s actions. It’s tricky for me to write about, personally, because, I, like everyone else, feel very strongly about it. However, for the sake of the story, I’ll lay out the facts, and let you decide whether or not you believe what Apple did was right. I also, as always, list some sources below, for further reading, if you so choose.
The app was called Human Coalition, which shares the name of the non-profit that created the app. The app was simple, perhaps too simple, if Apple’s reasoning is accurate, and told users to pray for women who had become pregnant, urging users to pray for the woman to allow the pregnancy to come to term, leaving her with a child. Apple cited “functionality requirements,” and, whether the app did or did not meet those requirements, Apple may have had grounds to remove it.
Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has promised in the past that Twitter would become a platform where people can feel safe. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten a whole lot better. People, women and minorities especially, still face harassment on Twitter, and too little is done when they come forward with complaints, leaving them silenced and afraid to speak at all. Twitter was used to stage GamerGate, targeted harassment of women in the gaming industry, it’s being used by white supremacists to spread hate and organize, and reports of this hate have largely gone unstopped until it becomes large enough for Twitter to step in. I myself, after a tweet of mine went mildly viral, found myself using Twitter’s report tool. The man child who was targeting me was banned for a few days, and he was automatically blocked from accessing my profile, but little more came of it. I’m sure he’s unbanned now and spreading his hate like nothing had happened. This is all too common, and doesn’t stop Twitter from becoming a toxic place.