Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A take on pragmatic security and Face ID

Security in today’s world is challenging to implement without making it a matter of privacy or ridiculously difficult for the end user. Passwords, PINs or Memorable Words? While many service providers implemented a multi-step verification system, it is still far from perfect. Troy Hunt, in his recent article nicely explains this:

here’s the problem with multi-step verification: it’s a perfect example of where security is friction. No matter how easy you make it, it’s something you have to do in addition to the thing you normally do, namely entering a username and password. That’s precisely the same problem with getting people to put PINs on their phone and as a result, there’s a huge number of devices out there left wide open.

Anecdotally, I have friends working in hotels and you won’t believe how many people who forget their phones don’t even have a passcode.

I found one survey from 2014 which said 52% of people have absolutely nothing protecting their phone. Another in 2016 said the number is more like 34%. Keep searching and you’ll find more stats of wildly varying values but the simple fact remains that there are a huge number of people out there with no protection on the device at all.

Systems like TouchID and now FaceID make this friction go unnoticeable. Over the past couple of weeks we had many people and news outlets lay their opinions and concerns with where technologies are headed. It’s particularly easy in the the machine learning and artificial intelligence space to exaggerate the outcome, but at the same time I understand where these concerns are coming from. I believe it’s great that we’re having a discussion about the implications of such technologies. We had them 4 years ago with Touch ID and we are having them now. But there is no reason to fear monger the whole world, serving Black Mirror style  stories.

How well and consistent Face ID will is yet to be reported. But if there is a company who can get it right, then that is Apple. Stay secure.

Face ID, Touch ID, No ID, PINs and Pragmatic Security →

Sunday, 19 February 2017

How to enable Hey Siri on Mac with your voice

When Siri for Mac was first announced at WWDC 2016 the first question I asked myself whether it would be available as a voice command. That proved not to be the case, at least not by default, so here is how you can create a dictation trigger to summon Siri on your Mac using the “Hey Siri” command. You can watch the whole video on YouTube.

How to enable Siri using “Hey Siri” command on your Mac

  1. Open System Preferences
    The System Preferences icon can normally be found in the dock, or you can use Spotlight to search for it.

  2. Select Siri and choose “Press Fn (Function) Space” as the Keyboard Shortcut for triggering Siri. Alternatively you may customise the shortcut. I chose Option+S. Note down your shortcut as you will need to perform it later.
  3. Go back to the main window in System Preferences and make sure you have Dictation enabled under Keyboard -> Dictation.
  4. Go back to the main window in System Preferences and choose the Accessibility option. Scroll down in the right panel and select Dictation under Interacting.
  5. Check Enable the dictation keyword phrase
  6. Replace the word Computer with Hey

  7. Click Dictation Commands… at the top of the window.
  8. Enable Advanced commands and press the “+” button just above the check to create a new custom command.
  9. Call it Siri if you want your trigger to be “Hey Siri” just like on iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
  10. Perform the keyboard shortcut that matches Siri’s Keyboard Shortcut in step 2. This could be the Fn (Function) Space combo or a custom combination. I chose Option + S.
  11. Click Done and test it out.

Good luck triggering all your other devices with the command! One suggestion would be to change the trigger word – “Hey”- to something else.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Monday, 24 October 2016

Putting Portrait Mode in iOS 10.1 to test

Portrait Mode is a new feature that comes in iOS 10.1  and is available for iPhone 7 Plus. Using a custom disc blur it manages to create a depth effect, mimicking high end DSLR results, putting some elements in focus while it blurs the others. Apple says this feature is still in Beta, and although not perfect, I found it to give pretty good results. Over the past two weeks  I have been putting it to some tests. Check out below the pictures I’ve taken using Portrait Mode.

Note: Although I’ve taken pictures of people, including some of my friends, I’ve decided not to put them up online, due to concerns of their privacy.

iPhone 6S Plus on desk (Portrait Mode)
Trying to get some nice shots of my old phone for the eBay ad.

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Friday, 16 September 2016

100+ new iPhone and iPad features in iOS 10

This article is a gem. Originally found this on The Loop, had a read and it looks like a pretty comprehensive list of iOS 10 new features, changes and improvements. Really cool to see them all together.

100+ new iPhone and iPad features in iOS 10 →

iOS 10 is here and it’s a massive, easily the most significant update to the mobile operating system powering the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iOS 10 packs in important new core technologies like Differential Privacy, plus a bunch of improvements across most stock apps.

Apple has opened up additional aspects of iOS to developers, turning Siri, Phone, Messages and Maps into extensible software platforms in their own right. It also fixes a number of pain points, makes expanded use of 3D Touch and haptic feedback and completes Apple’s overhaul of iOS, that began with iOS 7, with its refined look and subtle design changes.

For me, the Differential Privacy bit that comes with the new iOS is the most interesting part, and I hope to see the results of it soon. Many researchers have doubted it will work, at least until they see how Apple implements it. And it seems like they will soon be able to.