Archive for September 23, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

New APIs in iOS 7

Mattt Thompson:

For the longest time, this boringly essential function [Base64] was completely MIA, leaving thousands of developers to copy-paste random code snippets from forum threads. It was an omission as conspicuous and annoying as JSON pre-iOS 5.

Lots of great stuff, including Base64, NSURLComponents (sorely needed), blink and smile detection, barcode scanning, and access to Safari’s Reading List. I’ll be interested to see whether NSProgress takes off.

Apple Maps in iOS 7

Steve Wildstrom:

In fact, just about every map screen I look at in my neighborhood has a mistake of some sort. A nonexistent school shows up a few blocks from my home, several miles from the school’s actual location. The National Institutes of Health Bethesda main campus, not exactly a minor landmark, is not indicated on the map. (I reported both of these errors to Apple a year ago.) The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is shown as the national Naval Medical Center, a name dropped two years ago, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute are missing.


Apple has still not done what is needed to improve the shortcomings of the apps itself. There are still no public transit directions, one of the more useful features of Google Maps. Switching between driving and walking instructions remains awkward.

We heard a lot last fall about how Apple would catch up throughout the coming year. Then when things didn’t seem to be improving much, we heard about how Apple was on a yearly schedule, with major improvements on the way for iOS 7. Apple itself has barely said anything about maps lately. Nearly every time I’ve tried to use Apple Maps, it has gotten something important wrong. Google Maps has rarely given me any trouble.

Back with iOS 5, it was possible to ask Siri or tap on a contact’s address and have it open up in a top-quality map. This is no longer possible today, because although Google Maps is in the App Store, all the OS services are hard-coded to use Apple Maps.

The Many Flaws of Dual_EC_DRBG

Matthew Green (via Jonathan Rentzsch):

In this post I’m going to try to explain the curious story of Dual-EC. While I’ll do my best to keep this discussion at a high and non-mathematical level, be forewarned that I’m probably going to fail at least at a couple of points.

Dan Goodin:

Officials from RSA Security are advising customers of the company’s BSAFE toolkit and Data Protection Manager to stop using a crucial cryptography component in the products that were recently revealed to contain a backdoor engineered by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Apple TV 6.0 Requires FairPlay for AirPlay

Paul Kafasis:

We are still investigating the issue and further research will be required to determine if a workaround is possible. At this time, it is clear that the new Apple TV software demands Apple’s proprietary FairPlay encryption in order to be allowed to send audio to it. This limitation was not present in older versions of the Apple TV software. Figuring a way around this encryption, or if it’s possible at all, may take some time.

There’s more general information on Hacker News. Christopher Breen has more general information about Apple TV 6.0:

Unlike previous updates that added new channels, version 6 of the Apple TV firmware goes under the hood, adding support for Apple’s iTunes Radio streaming service, allowing purchases from the iTunes music store, supporting podcast syncing, and providing access to shared iCloud Photo Streams. Additionally you can stream purchased iTunes content via iCloud to any Apple TV, even when it isn’t currently using your iTunes credentials.

Update (2013-09-26): Paul Kafasis:

Today, we’re happy to say that issue has been resolved in Airfoil for Mac. Airfoil 4.8.1, just released, works fine with the new Apple TV update (and all other AirPlay-compatible devices).

Touchscreen Latency

Dean Takahashi (via John Gruber):

In its first TouchMarks benchmark test, the iPhone 5 responded to touches at an average time of 55 milliseconds, compared to 85 milliseconds for the iPhone 4. The closest Android device was the Samsung Galaxy S4 at 114 milliseconds.

Jens Andersson (via Hacker News):

Well, for one thing we can see that the gaming-devices consistently outperformed the smart-phones. I can only guess why, but it is possible that the Nintendo 3DS and the PSVita can have lower latency since they will never have to render anything on top of your game like a phone sometimes do. Also, the input handlers are usually very effective on game-devices, allowing you to read the latest available input rather than have to wait for it to be sent to you through an event-handler like you have to on iOS and Android.

He measured 81 milliseconds for the iPhone 5 vs. 23 milliseconds for the Nintendo 3DS and just 9 milliseconds for the Nintendo DS.

iOS 7 Layers

Rian van der Merwe:

I’m mesmerised by the animations in iOS 7, and none more so than the experience of opening and exiting an app within a folder. To me, it feels like you’re doing Parkour through your apps, deftly using your surroundings to propel yourself forward and maintain as much momentum as possible.

Dr. Drang:

The problem arises when we bring up the Control Center. Conceptually, this is a third layer that’s above the level of the icons. Apple says it’s like looking through rice paper, and the various previews I’ve been reading over the past few months have talked about it being like looking through frosted glass. The translucency of this layer is supposed to give you a sense of depth. Unfortunately, it breaks illusion of the Parallax effect.

Craig Grannell:

I’d like nothing more from Apple than to be able to go to the accessibility settings in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 and see ‘disable animation effects’. For most people, this option existing won’t affect them. But for many people currently suffering various motion symptoms through standard device use, it will offer a level of delight like no other Apple update. For them, devices will suddenly become truly magical.