News from Six Colors

The latest in the world of Apple

Six Colors Writing about Apple and other stuff by Jason Snell, Dan Moren, and others.

  • (Podcast) Upgrade #275: Remove All of the Holes
    by Jason Snell on December 9, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Rumors of a forthcoming iPhone without any lightning or USB ports make us ponder why Apple would consider such a move and what its ramifications would be. Also, Apple basks in Golden Globe nominations and steps into movie-industry controversy and Jason explains why most people don’t need a Mac Pro.

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  • Evaluating the rumors of the 2020 and 2021 iPhones (Macworld)
    by Dan Moren on December 6, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    It hasn’t even been three months since the release of Apple’s latest iPhone lineup and already the rumor mill is working overtime on what might arrive in the company’s smartphones next year and, believe it or not, the year after that.

    Even if the iPhone is making up a smaller percentage of Apple’s revenue these days, it hasn’t ceased being the product that defines Apple, meaning speculation remains at peak levels. And all the smartwatches, streaming services, and fancy wireless headphones aren’t going to be changing that calculus anytime soon.

    Certainly the next iPhone is still a way off, but it’s worth taking a moment to look at this latest round of rumors and think critically about what they might portend—even if they don’t end up coming true.

    Continue reading on Macworld...

  • Solved: iPhone 11 sneaks a peek at location data for Ultra Wideband ↦
    by Jason Snell on December 5, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    There was a minor tempest in a teapot earlier this week when security reporter Brian Krebs reported that an iPhone appeared to be searching for its location even when the location feature was turned off.

    At the time, Apple said it was working as intended and wasn’t leaking data, but in its own vague and oblique way. Now we’ve got some more details, as Zack Whittaker reports at TechCrunch:

    “Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations.”

    “The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data,” the spokesperson said.

    So basically, Apple needs to turn off Ultra Wideband in certain circumstances and so the iPhones with that feature (the iPhone 11 models) check to see where they are. That information doesn’t ever leave the phone. But Apple says it will add a setting to completely disable the location-sensing feature, and presumably Ultra Wideband along with it, in a forthcoming update.

    [Read on Six Colors.]

  • How MLB verifies the robot strike zone ↦
    by Jason Snell on December 5, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    (Content warning: Baseball. But I swear, tech folks, you don’t have to be a sports person to think this is cool.)

    Computer-generated monitoring of the flight of every pitch in every major-league baseball game has changed how we perceive the game. Every major-league broadcast uses the data. We know the flight of the ball through space and, most importantly, its position as it crosses home plate—the ultimate determination of whether it’s a ball or a strike.

    This knowledge has created a controversy—should MLB use this technology to replace human umpires in calling balls and strikes? When I came out strongly in support of a computer-assisted strike zone earlier this year, one of the biggest criticisms I heard was the idea that the technology isn’t nearly as reliable and trustworthy as it would need to be.

    Which is why I really enjoyed this story by Clay Nunnally, a baseball scientist for MLB, about how the league verifies the accuracy of pitch-tracking technology at ballparks:

    MLB works with the Washington State University Sports Science Lab to independently measure pitch-tracking accuracy in every MLB ballpark. Specifically, WSU performs ground-truth tests at every MLB park. A ground-truth test is designed to precisely identify the position of a baseball during a trajectory event such as plate crossing or pitch release. The ground-truth reference is the standard by which we evaluate the accuracy and precision of in-stadia tracking systems.

    Essentially, the WSU lab travels to every ballpark and uses cameras that run at 2500 frames per second and a calibration system to track balls shot from a pneumatic cannon and compare their results to the in-stadium tracking system. The “ground-truth exercise” is performed annually at every MLB park, and additional tests happen during the season as well as whenever new equipment is added.

    Is that enough precision to be used in major-league games? I guess that’s for the commissioner to decide. And this is only one way that on-field data is being collected; this ESPN piece by Sam Miller details a single play from last year using positional data, calculated via radar, for every player on the field.

    I really enjoy reading about how technology is revolutionizing every aspect of sports and giving fans, players, and executives alike a better understanding of how these games work.