The Artificial-MasterPrints Edition Tuesday, April 11, 2017

That Fingerprint Sensor On Your Phone Is Not As Safe As You Think, by Vindu Goel, New York Times

New findings published Monday by researchers at New York University and Michigan State University suggest that smartphones can easily be fooled by fake fingerprints digitally composed of many common features found in human prints. In computer simulations, the researchers from the universities were able to develop a set of artificial “MasterPrints” that could match real prints similar to those used by phones as much as 65 percent of the time.

The researchers did not test their approach with real phones, and other security experts said the match rate would be significantly lower in real-life conditions. Still, the findings raise troubling questions about the effectiveness of fingerprint security on smartphones.

Qualcomm Countersues Apple, Says iPhone Wouldn't Be Possible Without Its Technologies, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Qualcomm, which earlier called Apple's lawsuit "baseless," accused Apple of failing to engage in good faith negotiations for a license to its 3G and 4G standard essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

The chipmaker accused Apple of breaching its licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks on its business in multiple countries. Qualcomm also said Apple has deliberately "chose not to utilize the full performance" of its LTE modem in its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Apple Sues Swatch Over 'Tick Different' Marketing Campaign, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple has filed a complaint in a Swiss court over the use of the slogan "Tick Different" in a Swatch marketing campaign, arguing that the watchmaker is unfairly referencing the Californian company's successful 1990s "Think Different" ad campaign for its own gain. [...]

Swatch CEO Nick Hayek has reportedly rejected the allegation that it is capitalizing on Apple branding. Hayek claimed that the "Tick Different" slogan has its origins in an 80s Swatch campaign that used the phrase "Always different, always new", and says that any similarity with Apple is purely coincidental.


Apple’s AirPods Make Me Feel Like An Alien, by Tom Warren, The Verge

I tried a pair during a recent work trip and I was surprised at how easy they linked to the iPhone despite the lack of wires. And the battery charging case is just clever. Untangling headphones is a headache, and feeding them through your jacket or having the tugged out of your ears can be frustrating. All of these first-world problems are solved with the AirPods, but at a weird expense. As this is new technology, most people haven’t seen a pair of AirPods where I live, let alone tried them. I receive puzzled looks on a daily basis, and I’m fairly sure most people think I’m wearing some wild earrings or making some kind of statement by cutting the wires of the iconic Apple EarPods.

Not a single person has asked me about the AirPods, presumably because they think I’m listening to music, but I’ve exchanged wry smirks with fellow commuters who know I look stupid. I probably feel how the first mobile phone users felt walking around with a cordless phone for the first time. It’s an unusual thing to see, and humans love staring at and new or or unusual things. I haven't seen anyone else using AirPods in London during my travels, but when I saw someone using them in Barcelona I totally understood why people stare: they look odd without wires.

Can An App Teach You How To Be A Better Singer?, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Singing is hard. But like anything else, practice helps — whether you’re a professionally trained vocalist or just want to sound less pitchy for your next karaoke outing. Besides, traditional vocal coaches are an expensive investment if you’re not planning on a career that’s musical in nature.

Vanido is a new app that might be able to help, claiming to be a “personal singing coach” by offering personalized daily exercises to improve both your voice and your ability to recognize notes.


The Walt Mossberg Brand, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Mossberg was Steve Jobs’ favorite columnist — and Mossberg a frequent admirer of Apple’s products — because both had the same vision: bringing these geeky, impenetrable, and rather ugly boxes of wires and chips and disks called personal computers to normal people, convinced said computers could, if only made accessible, fundamentally transform a user’s life.

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Travel-adapters are on my mind lately, because our family had just gotten an electric appliance from a different part of the world. And also one of our family member is also planning on traveling soon. Which means I sincerely agree with the idea that everything -- everything -- should be powered or charged via USB-C.


Thanks for reading.