As foretold by the rumors, Apple announced two new larger iPhone models today: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Sized at 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches respectively, the phones sport a slick new style and landmark new features.
The iPhone 6 is priced at $200 for 16 GB, $300 for 64 GB, and $400 for 128 GB, with a two year contract. The larger iPhone 6 Plus commands a premium: $300 for 16 GB, $400 for 64 GB, and $500 for 128 GB. Both phones come in silver, gold, and black.
Pre-orders start this Friday, September 12, and the phones go on sale Friday the 19th.
Both phones sport new designs. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with their larger displays, now feel reminiscent of a miniature iPad. The rear of each device is smooth brushed anodized aluminum that curves softly into its glass front face rather than being completely flat on the back with largely squared-off edges—the look the past four iPhones adopted. On the front, you’ve also got the familiar Touch ID home button.
The iPhone 6 has a 1334×750 display, the 6 Plus 1920×1080 display. That’s over 1 million pixels on the iPhone 6 and over 2 million on the iPhone 6 plus. These new display sizes use a new generation of Retina display Apple is calling Retina HD. The new reengineered displays use ion-strengthened glass on top, and on the bottom, an ultrathin backlight. Even with the larger display, Apple is promising the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will have equal or better battery life than the last generation of iPhones.
To use these big-screened phones, Apple’s introduced a few new software tricks to iOS. In the iPhone 6 Plus, the Messages app has a new horizontal split display. Stocks also has a two panel horizontal view, as does Mail. The keyboard takes advantage of the display area, too, and there’s a new horizontal homescreen view. These views obviously make better use of the increased screen real estate, but I wonder how easy it is to use with your fingers as you type.
You can also use swiping gestures for navigation in Mail, Messages, and Safari. There’s also a new gesture called reachability: If you double touch the home button, the display slides down so you can reach things at the top of the display without having to readjust your hand. This seems like a better solution than Samsung’s one-handed mode, but it’s still kind of awkward that it’s necessary.
Both phones will ship with iOS 8. Software updates will go out to older iPhones (the 4S and later) on September 17.
On the iPhone 6 line, Apple updated the camera hardware and software. Apple’s using a 8-megapixel camera with a f/2.2 aperture. There’s also a new sensor inside that’s an improvement over previous iPhone cameras, and a faster auto-focus. There’s the standard digital image stabilization at work in both phones, but in the bigger iPhone 6 Plus, there’s also an optical image stabilization system that uses the phone’s gyroscope and M8 processor to cancel out movements and shaking hands. Video is stabilized too, and there’s a new slow-mo mode that shoots at 240 fps.
Inside, a new A8 processor promises to keep things humming faster than any iPhone before, and the M8 chip has improved performance for motion-sensing and health-tracking. Working along side these updated processors is a new sensor: a barometer.
AMAZON ERROR ALLOWED ALEXA USER TO EAVESDROP ON ANOTHER HOME
A user of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in Germany got access to more than a thousand recordings from another user because of “a human error” by the company.
The customer had asked to listen back to recordings of his own activities made by Alexa but he was also able to access 1,700 audio files from a stranger when Amazon sent him a link, German trade publication c’t reported.
“This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case,” an Amazon spokesman said.
The first customer had initially got no reply when he told Amazon about the access to the other recordings, the report said. The files were then deleted from the link provided by Amazon but he had already downloaded them on to his computer, added the report from c’t, part of German tech publisher Heise.
CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY FACES INSURANCE HURDLE TO MAINSTREAM AMBITIONS
Cryptocurrency exchanges and traders in Asia are struggling to insure themselves against the risk of hacks and theft, a factor they claim is deterring large fund managers from investing in a nascent market yet to be embraced by regulators.
Getting the buy-in from insurers would mark an important step in crypto industry efforts to show that it has solved the problem of storing digital assets safely following the reputational damage of a series of thefts, and allow it to attract investment from mainstream asset managers.
“Most institutionally minded crypto firms want to buy proper insurance, and in many cases, getting adequate insurance coverage is a regulatory or legal requirement,” said Henri Arslanian, PwC fintech and crypto leader for Asia.
“However, getting such coverage is almost impossible despite their best efforts.”
Many asset managers are interested in digital assets. A Greenwich Associates survey, published in September, said 72% of institutional investors who responded to the research firm believe crypto has a place in the future.
Last month, Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz’s chief economic adviser said that cryptocurrencies would gain wider acceptance as institutions began to invest in the space.
Most have held off investing so far however, citing regulatory uncertainty and a lack of faith in existing market infrastructure for storing and trading digital assets following a series of hacks, as well the plunge in prices.
The total market capitalisation of crypto currencies is currently estimated at approximately US$120bil (RM502bil) compared to over US$800bil (RM3.3tril) at its peak in January.
“Institutional investors who are interested in investing in crypto will have various requirements, including reliable custody and risk management arrangements,” said Hoi Tak Leung, a senior lawyer in Ashurst’s digital economy practice.
“Insufficient insurance coverage, particularly in a volatile industry such as crypto, will be a significant impediment to greater ‘institutionalisation’ of crypto investments.”
Regulatory uncertainty is another problem for large asset managers. While crypto currencies raise a number of concerns for regulators, including money laundering risks, few have set out clear frameworks for how cryptocurrencies should be traded, and by whom.
Insurance might allay some of the regulators’ concerns around cyber security. Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission recently said it was exploring regulating crypto exchanges, and signalled that the vast majority of the virtual assets held by a regulated exchange would need insurance cover.
Keeping crypto assets secure involves storing a 64 character alphanumeric private key. If the key is lost, the assets are effectively lost too.
Assets can be stored online, in so-called hot wallets, which are convenient to trade though vulnerable to being hacked, or in ‘cold’ offline storage solutions, safe from hacks, but often inconvenient to access frequently.
Over US$800mil worth of crypto currencies were stolen in the first half of this year according to data from Autonomous NEXT, a financial research firm.
Some institutions have started working to solve this problem, and may provide fierce competition to the incumbent players.
This year, Fidelity, and a group including Japanese investment bank Nomura have launched platforms that will offer custody services for digital assets.
Despite the industry’s complaints, insurers say that they do offer cover. Risk advisor Aon, received some two dozen inquiries this year from exchanges and crypto vaults seeking insurance, according to Thomas Cain, regional director, commercial risk solutions, at Aon’s Asian financial services and professions group.
“It is not difficult to insure companies that hold large amounts of crypto assets, but given the newness of the asset class and the publicity some of the crypto breaches have received, applicants need to make an effort to distinguish themselves,” Cain said.
The industry also says it is getting closer to solving the custody problem.
“This year there have been a number of developments, and some providers have developed custody solutions suitable for institutional clients’ needs,” said Tony Gravanis, managing director investments at blockchain investment firm Kenetic Capital.
“Players at the top end of the market have also been able to get insurance,” he said.
But this is not the case for all.
One cryptocurrency broker, declining to be named because of the subject’s sensitivity, said insurers struggled to understand the new technology and its implications, and that even those who were prepared to provide insurance would only offer limited cover. “We’ve not yet found an insurer who will offer coverage of a meaningful enough size to make it worthwhile,” he said. – Reuters
CTECH’S THURSDAY ROUNDUP OF ISRAELI TECH NEWS
Scrapped London Skyscraper set to dominate Tel Aviv skyline. A tower ditched mid-construction in London due to the economic downturn of 2008 is now being resurrected in Tel Aviv in the midst of the city’s unprecedented tech boom. Watch the video
Acquisition by Medtronic complete, Mazor delists. Medtronic paid $1.3 billion in cash for the Israeli surgical robotics company. Including Medtronic’s existing stake, the deal is valued at $1.7 billion. Read more
Israelis receive 8.5 spam calls a month, according to Truecaller. The country ranked last among the top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2018, according to a new report released by the company. Read more
Innoviz expands globally, sets up a commercial manufacturing line in China.The Israel-based LiDAR maker has doubled its employee count in the past year and intends to recruit additional personnel for research and development, business and sales. Read more
Particle analyzer company PML sold following liquidation. The company developed electro-optical systems for monitoring and measuring fluid particle sizes and concentration.