The Electrical-Impulses Edition Thursday, September 13, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4 Can Detect AFib And Perform An ECG, by Matt Burns, Techcrunch

The watch can now perform an ECG, detect atrial fibrillation, and detect when a person’s heart rate is too low. Apple even got the Watch cleared by the FDA for direct-to-consumer purchase, a first over-the-counter offering for ECG-enabled devices, Williams said.


According to Williams, who gave a demo on stage at the event, a person just needs to open the app, touch a finger to the digital crown, and the Watch performs the test using the electrodes built into the back of the watch. Because a person’s finger is touching the crown, the watch can detect electrical impulses from the heart and process the pulses with an algorithm built into the watch.

The New ECG Apple Watch Could Do More Harm Than Good, by Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

People with atrial fibrillation, which the CDC estimates affects between 2.7 and 6.1 million Americans, could likely benefit from a wearable, on-demand ECG device like the new Apple Watch. (AFib is the most common arrhythmia, and the only kind Apple's watch is approved to detect.) But for everyone else, evidence suggests the potential costs could actually outweigh the proposed benefits. Despite what Benjamin says, there is such a thing as too much insight into one's health.


"Do you wind up catching a few undiagnosed cases? Sure. But for the vast majority of people it will have either no impact or possibly a negative impact by causing anxiety or unnecessary treatment," says cardiologist Theodore Abraham, director of the UCSF Echocardiography Laboratory. The more democratized you make something like ECG, he says, the more you increase the rate of false positives—especially among the hypochondriac set. "In the case of people who are very type-A, obsessed with their health, and fitness compulsive, you could see a lot of them overusing Apple's tech to self-diagnose and have themselves checked out unnecessarily."

The Phones

Apple Announces iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, Coming September 21, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Two back-facing cameras will ship in the iPhone XS, both rated 12 megapixels: a wide-angle camera (f/1.8) and a telephoto camera (f/2.4). Additionally, an improved 7-megapixel sensor will serve as the XS' front-facing camera. In expected fashion, Apple advertised new camera features, driven by machine learning and image analysis, to improve the phones' photo quality, including a software feature dubbed "Smart HDR."

A new bokeh-friendly feature has been introduced in the new iPhones' gallery as well. iPhone XS will store additional image captures and use photo analysis to let users adjust a photo's depth-of-field effect, at a range from f/1.4 to f/16, even after it has been taken. If this works anywhere near as smoothly as it looked on the Steve Jobs Theater stage, users will be in for a treat.

Dual-SIM And eSIM Technology In iPhone Xs And iPhone XR Enables Use Of Two Phone Plans On One Device, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

In order to offer dual-SIM support in the iPhone Xs, Apple is taking advantage of the eSIM technology used in the Apple Watch to act as a software-based SIM alongside a physical SIM card. Both are enabled on the iPhone at the same time, correspond to separate phone numbers, and can be set up with two completely different plans.

Making Sense Of The Most Confusing New iPhone Lineup Ever, by Harry McCracken, Fast Company

For consumers, choosing a new iPhone may have just gotten more complicated. But as long as enough people do choose one rather than sticking with what they’ve got, or buying an Android phone, Apple will presumably be happy to let a hundred iPhones bloom—or at least several of them.

The iPhone Franchise, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

That is the iPhone: it is a franchise, the closest thing to a hardware annuity stream tech has ever seen. Some people buy an iPhone every year; some are on a two-year cycle; others wait for screens to crack, batteries to die, or apps to slow. Nearly all, though, buy another iPhone, making the purpose of yesterday’s keynote less an exercise in selling a device and more a matter of informing self-selected segments which device they will ultimately buy, and for what price.

Will We Ever Get Tired Of Buying iPhones?, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

So, to answer my own question, I don’t think the iPhone’s popularity faces any imminent threat in the places where it already exists. It benefits from the same consumer culture that drives people to buy dozens of pairs of branded jeans and sneakers and just as many handbags and watches. Sure, Apple’s struggling to penetrate India and China’s growing phone markets, but its greatest strength is the vast population of people already inside its ecosystem — all those who look upon Android innovations and improvements as interesting ideas, some of which might be nice to have on the iPhone. It’s a corporate sort of tribalism that continues to serve Apple well.

Hands On

Hands-on With The New iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, And Apple Watch Series 4, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Yes, dramatically increasing the screen space on your device while only marginally increasing its size is a page right out of the iPhone X playbook. The iPhone X showed it worked, and the Apple Watch Series 4 will also benefit it. Of all the new Apple products I got to handle Wednesday, the Series 4 was the one I’m the most excited about.

Hands-on With The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, And iPhone XR, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Done well, OLED displays are gorgeous—last year, I called the iPhone X's the best phone display I had ever seen. That remained true until I saw the iPhone XS and XS Max today. If you play games or regularly watch movies or TV on your phone, you couldn't pick a better phone. Apple provides arguably the best library in the world of digitally available HDR movies to watch on this device.


While the OLED display on the iPhone XS looks great, the increased size helped me notice those remarkable details even more.

The OSes

Apple Reveals iOS 12, Mojave, watchOS 5, And tvOS 12 Ship Dates, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

We’ve been using iOS 12 betas all summer and it has been a largely positive experience. Those with older devices have said that its performance improvements have given a new lease on life to the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and the like, and one TidBITS Talk reader said it solved his iOS 11 battery problems. [...]

That said, it’s probably worth waiting a week or two to make sure no serious problems crop up.

iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12: 17 September 2018.
macOS 10.14 Mojave: 24 September 2018.

That Wireless Charger

Apple Tries To Wipe AirPower From History, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

Over the past few weeks I've spoken to a number of sources in the accessories and charging business, and they all claim that not only was AirPower too ambitious, Apple had made the job of developing an all-in-one charger all the more difficult by using differing wireless charging protocols for the iPhone and the Apple Watch.


Apple Adds Lyric Search, Phone Calls, And Multiple Timers To The HomePod, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Multiple timers is one of the best features for any modern smart speaker, letting you keep it in the kitchen and use a way to play music and stay atop an ongoing recipe as you cook. It’s one of the most used Alexa features on Amazon’s Echo line of speakers, and it’s been a big missing feature for the HomePod up until now.

Apple Announces New iPhone Battery Repair Prices After $29 Offer Ends At End Of Year, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The prices are going back up [from Jan 1, 2019], but not quite to the level that they were. Battery repairs for iPhone X, iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs will cost $69. Repairs for all older iPhones will cost $49.

Moment Releases First MFi Battery Case For iPhone Xs/X With Shutter Button & More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

In addition to seamless compatibility with the company’s high-quality lenses, it’s the first MFi battery case for Xs/X, features a Lightning port, wireless charging, two-stage shutter button, and more.


Apple Says iPhone & Watch Apps Will Have To Support iOS 12, watchOS 5 & New Hardware By March, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Following its Wednesday GM releases, Apple on Wednesday began calling for developers to submit apps compatible with iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12, warning that iPhone and Apple Watch apps will have to meet new standards come March.

iPhone Xs And iPhone XR Can Read NFC Tags Without Having To Launch An App, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

If detected, the NFC scan will trigger a notification to appear on the lock screen of the iPhone Xs or iPhone XR. The user can then tap the alert and launch the app into the foreground, passed the context of the NFC tags.


Apple Can Delete Purchased Movies From Your Library Without Telling You, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

For reasons that are easy to guess, Apple has never widely advertised that, by deleting locally stored content, users are actually rolling the dice as to whether they will ever be able to get it back.

How Can We Resist The Seduction Of The Mobile Phone?, by Tim Harford

Technology companies, notably Facebook and Google, make money by selling your attention to advertisers. The more attention they have, the more they can sell. There is a limit to how much we can expect them to help us regain control.

So, without letting the technology companies off the hook, the main responsibility for managing our attention has to lie with us. And there is plenty we can do.

Bottom of the Page

Someday, someone will ask this question: Wait, when you say iPhone Xs, are you talking about the new iPhone from Apple, or are you referring to many iPhone X phones?


Thanks for reading.