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Friday, September 8, 2017

iPhone 8 Rumours - touchID and a Boring Name

The rumour-mill is yet again running hot in anticipation of the latest refresh of Apple's flagship iPhone device.

It's been 10 years since the iPhone first hit the streets and revved up the mobile app marketplace revolution that has been responsible for keeping many businesses - including our very own Creative Intersection - busy engineering and deploying mobile apps.

Our insiders (and lots of leaked reports) tell us that there are some interesting things happening with this milestone release .... tipped to be called the "iPhone Pro".

Aside from sporting an AMOLED screen, which is brighter, crisper, more vivid and less power-hungry than the current crop of iPhone screens, there are rumours about touchID being removed from the device and replaced by facial recognition.

From left to right:  iPhone 7, iPhone Pro, and iPhone 7 Plus  (pic via 9to5mac.com)

Whilst facial recognition is likely to appear on the new iPhone Pro, touchID is likely to stay despite the all-glass front (with a screen that spans the entire area of the phone, there is no room for the traditional "home" button).

Apple rarely do leaps-and-bounds innovation these days, so their iterative approach would have the touchID sensor still being available in some way - if only to not scare existing users into thinking that they're being watched and probed every second of the day by the nefarious creatures that inhabit their digital security blanket.

Ultrasonic fingerprint sensors developed by Qualcomm, for example, are not quite ready for prime time, so how could Apple still include a touchID sensor without having to resort to a rather pedestrian placement like the back of the phone (where the logo sits, for example) ?


The touchID sensor in a standard iPhone and iPad is in the form of a circle (the metal bit around the home button) that can sense ridges along that edge boundary. Do some maths on the ridges being detected (in the form of an algorithm, described in Apple's "Efficient Texture Comparison" patent) and you can work out with a fairly high degree of certainty that the finger touching it is a match.

Now straighten the circle into a line and you still have a decent sensing area (a high number of ridges) ... then apply the same algorithm (modified slightly) and you still know that the finger touching it is a match.

So - why wouldn't you just put the touchID sensor along the side edge of the phone ?  It only needs to extend along a part of the edge, and if one is placed on either side then the sensors can work in tandem to provide faster sensing with high accuracy (two half fingerprints are as good as a whole one). Maybe it'll need to be renamed to "gripID" but would still work the same way.

Cases would need to be modified to include access to the sensor, but every new iteration of any mobile phone needs some modification to cases anyway - so it's just a good opportunity to sell more cases.

.... or ... we're full of crap and have no idea what the iPhone 8 will be like or what it'll be called. Only time will tell.  😀

Tune in to Apple's live stream from their shiny new Spaceship Headquarters on 13th September at 3am (AEST).

And if your business needs a mobile app, check out "Business Apps Powered by ciSUITE:".

Update 13/9/17 ... YEP! We got it wrong for the new OLED iPhone (officially released today as "iPhone X" - pronounced "iPhone Ten"). There is no touchID but the name is still pretty boring.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have also been released and they are just a refresh of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus - including retaining their touchID hardware.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Short URLs and Click Tracking on a Budget

We often have a need to provide a URL to someone and want to see if it gets used ... and if it's a public link then it'd be nice to see how often (and when) it has been used.

Sure, there are ways to do that but they can be a bit difficult and especially so if the URL doesn't belong to us (i.e. we can't access analytics / site statistics for the target URL).

There are URL shorteners out there that either work automatically (YouTube, Twitter etc use their own when you create content), or that you can use yourself (bit.ly, for example). In bit.ly's case you can also access some basic click-through information to see how popular your link has been at any given moment.

Google Analytics from our Link Shortener service (back-end reporting)

But, we all know and love Google Analytics because it's free and the analytical/graphing side of things are quite mature so you can create a complex set of analysis tools without the need to move to something like Google Analytics 360 (the insanely expensive, but equally insanely powerful Enterprise version of Google Analytics).

So we thought we'd fix the problem of bridging the gap between a URL shortener and Google Analytics.

And a couple of hours of internal "code challenge" later we have a brand new service that we are already using ourselves to create and track link usage throughout our own network of web properties.

It's called CI Link Us (https://cilnk.us) and you'll see that each of the URL's we have linked to in this blog post already run through the service - so we can see when someone has clicked a link.

Currently, we are only sending basic metrics to Google Analytics ... the shortened URL and the target URL ... and that's mostly all we need because Google Analytics will add the location info by way of the referring IP address and we can create drill-down reports based on time-of-day etc.

How did we do it ?

We actually used a server-side PHP script class to do the work for us ... so instead of Javascript in a user's browser talking to Google Analytics (which would be impossible because the shortener site immediately redirects to the target URL), we do that talking in the background (server to server) and flick the user to their desired URL.


Want to try it ?

What's stopping you ?  .... Go for it.