Category: Mobile

Fingerprints, Security, and the Law

In October of 2013, I wrote a post titled, Device Security: Fingerprints vs Passwords. That post was published about a month after Apple released the iPhone 5S, the first device with Touch ID.

In the post I argued that the choice between password and fingerprint was about optimizing for a particular type of data thief.

On the subject of the police, I stated, “It takes a massive amount of legal proceedings for the police to compel a person to turn over their password.” When it came to fingerprints I argued, “The police can compel you to turn over your fingerprints. There isn’t enough legal precedent to ensure protection from the authorities.

Since publishing this, I have on more than a few occasions been accused of wearing a tin foil hat.

Well my friends, the police are in fact compelling US citizens to use their fingerprints to unlock their phones in cases where they would not be allowed to compel a person to turn over their passwords.

In this particular instance, it sucks to be correct.

If we don’t defend our civil liberties, then the freedoms that make this country worth defending will wither away.

The Geek Whisperer’s 2015 Tech Predictions

I’ve been at this for a long time, this is the first time I’m taking a stab at industry predictions. Let’s see how I do in 12 months.

Security Breaches Everywhere

Information security is going to continue to grow as both a problem, and a political issue.

There will be more point-of-sale breaches at major retailers and large-scale corporate leaks like Sony (they will largely be inside jobs).

This will continue because companies won’t:

  • update their systems
  • implement proper password standards and management
  • hire and empower skilled information security specialists

Security Politicization

All of the breaches are going to grow into larger political issues as legislators try to regulate security.

The proposed laws will be terrible.

Most of our leaders will try their hardest to avoid discussing the fact that the Department of Justice has been actively working to hobble corporate and individual information security for years.

Apple Watch

At launch, there will be a mix of sneering and praise for the Apple Watch, but it will be a runaway success. Their stock price will drop initially.

Why will it be a success?

  • Because Apple
  • Minimally functional wrist-based wearables have already caught-on
  • We use our phones too much, and don’t want to take them out all of the time
  • It’s even more difficult to get your phone in and out of tight pants (watch people when you’re out; this is actually something people struggle with)

User Interfaces Go Vertical

The Apple Watch is going to bring new web and app design trends with it.

I’m in the middle of designing my first Apple Watch app, and I have discovered that because of the “crown,” everything shifts to a vertical interface. I suspect that many iPhone apps will shift to a more vertical experience to create similarities between their iPhone and Apple Watch apps. This will find its way into web design as well.

Apple Watch Theft

(This is the last Apple-related prediction)

Apple Watch theft is going to be a really big thing; especially in the warm months when crime rises and people aren’t covering their wrists with sleeves.

Even if Apple comes up with a very clever theft deterrence system, stolen Apple Watch bands will fetch good money.

"That Milanese Loop will look so great on me... Give it to me or I'll cut you!"
“That Milanese Loop will look so great on me… Give it to me or I’ll cut you!”

Net Neutrality = Giant Mess

The FCC will try to split the proverbial baby on net neutrality, and it’s going to be a mess.

I predict lawsuits from both sides of the issue. No one will be happy, and the ISPs will continue to suck… But lawyers and lobbyists will make money, and that’s all that really matters isn’t it?

Innovations Mobile Gaming

Mobile video games are going to get better, and more interesting.

The comparatively low cost of iOS and Android development vs console gaming, as well as the ubiquity of iOS and Android devices will spur a renascence in mobile video games. We’re going to see more of the quirky, interesting, and unusual indie games that have been priced out of the console market, or lost in the ether.

HTTPS Everywhere(ish)

2015 will be year that one of the browsers will label unencrypted websites as insecure. Many website owners will finally make the leap to HTTPS for everything.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be far better than the current situation.

Backend / Frontend Decoupling

There aren’t many content management systems that are great on both the back and front end.

While not a new concept, more websites will be built with a decoupled front and backend. Look for lots of Drupal backend, and AngularJS frontend sites. The web will be better for it.

API All the Things!

APIs are going to continue to become a necessary business tool for both internal and external purposes.

The non-profit and government worlds will need them to open up and share data.

Companies will want them to power their growing array of external websites and applications.

Really smart organizations will find that internal APIs for cross-department data sharing are more important than an intranet.

[Image via Apple]

SwiftKey: The Reason iOS8 is Exciting

Android’s Best App

The killer app on Android was the predictive keyboard, SwiftKey. A lack of SwiftKey on iOS was almost enough to keep me from jumping off of the Android bandwagon (but Android’s terrible carrier-driven software update process became too annoying).

Thankfully, with iOS8’s added support of third party keyboards, SwiftKey is no longer an Android exclusive.


SwiftKey is an alternative digital keyboard for your phone. It doesn’t look too special. It just happens to have a keyboard that is brilliantly designed for ease of use.

  • Punctuation is where you want it
  • The keyboard itself shows you letters in the right case (if you’re typing in lowercase the letters are shown in lower case)
  • It’s awesome predictive language system learns from what you type. If you use it regularly, it get scary good at predicting your language patters.

iOS’s Keyboard

OS’s pathetic excuse for a keyboard:

  • Only makes typing periods easy
  • Always shows letters in upper case making you look to the strikingly confusing shift key to tell what case you’ll be typing in

I don’t know how well their predictive system will work, but I don’t care.

Installing SwiftKey

Download “SwiftKey Keyboard” not “Swiftkey Note.”

I made the mistake of downloading SwiftKey Note... It was a bit confusing
I made the mistake of downloading SwiftKey Note… It was a bit confusing

Then follow these instructions (which are also included in the App’s installation process):

New Facebook App “Paper” is Stunning

I don’t recall ever using the word “stunning” to describe a mobile app. Facebook’s new alternative app Paper is the first one that has left me stunned.

There are some magnificently designed apps out there (Clear comes to mind), but using Paper is the first time I have used an app and thought to myself, “it’s time to rethink the way you approach application interface design.”

Facebook Paper

It’s just pretty. Really pretty. And easy to used. And fun.

The only big flaw (barring some bugs that I am sure they will squish with updates) is that it makes feel ancient, stodgy and boring. Granted Facebook has never been a beauty, but the juxtaposition between and Paper is pretty shocking. I hope we can expect to see more of this kind of design work from them in the future.

For a company whose mobile application was the model for mediocrity a couple of years ago Facebook has done something special here. I strongly recommend you try it out if you have an iOS device.

Facebook Paper