Sunday, 3 May 2015

Apple says tattoos can cause watch problems

Apple has said some of the functions on its new smartwatch may not work properly when it is worn over tattoos.
Darker-coloured artwork and even changes in darker coloured skin types can fool the light sensors on the back of the watch.
The problem is not exclusive to the Apple Watch, which performed well in independent tests.
But it does show the manufacturer has not solved the sensor problem.
Sensitive sensors
"Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can... impact heart rate sensor performance," Apple said on a support page on its website.
"The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings."


The watch uses green LED lights combined with light-sensitive photodiode sensors to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist, which can then be used to calculate heart rate.
Other problems have been reported. Matt Siegel, a journalist for the Reuters news agency said that "the watch locks on tattooed skin and does not deliver the soft pings that alert a user to incoming messages".
"The heart rate readings were also significantly different on tattooed and untattooed wrists."
Videos posted to YouTube have shown users with wrist tattoos attempting to log a work out session, only for the watch to appear to intermittently pause the stopwatch when it failed to detect the wrist.
Common problem
The problem is not unique to the Apple Watch.
Several smartwatches and wearable fitness devices that use similar sensor technology have also been reported to struggle when worn on darker coloured skin. In these cases the amount of light reflected back from deeper-coloured pigmentation of the skin is less than the device is calibrated for.
The technology in Apple's watch does not appear to be of a low standard. It performed well in independent tests against leading heart rate monitors, according to Consumer Reports.

The repair site has taken apart the Apple Watch and reported that its heart rate monitor system is more advanced than most, offering potential functions that Apple is not currently promoting.
"Apple's heart rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph," it said.
"It looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn't claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level. Why? Beats us. Our best guesses involve FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] regulations."
It seems that the sensor and monitor functions of the Apple Watch are fairly advanced, but that the technology giant has yet to solve the known problems presented by darker-inked skin.
"We're not surprised the Apple Watch has run into problems with tattoos as it uses similar optical heart rate monitoring tech as the Fitbit Charge HR," Sophie Charara, contributing editor of wearable technology website Wareable, told the BBC.
"Apple now needs to offer users the option to disable the pin code security when the smart watch doesn't detect your wrist.
"The winning wearable tech in the next few years will be the devices that work with our bodies, not the ones that ignore them

Windows 'open' for Apple and Android

Microsoft is keen to sell its mobile devices
Microsoft is releasing software tools that make it easier to run popular Apple and Android apps on Windows mobile devices.
By changing a "few percent", Apple app makers should be able to run code on Windows 10 mobile devices, it said.
And many Android apps should run with no changes.
Experts said the move was an "imperfect solution" to Microsoft's problems persuading people to use Windows mobile.
Popular vote
For iOS, Microsoft has unveiled an initiative called Project Islandwood, which has led to the creation of a software interpreter that works with the development tools Apple coders typically pick.
By piping code through this interpreter and changing a few other parts, it would be possible to transfer or port iOS apps to Windows 10, Microsoft said in a presentation at its Build developer conference in Seattle.
Already developers working for game-maker King have ported the massively popular Candy Crush Saga to Windows using these tools.
A separate initiative, called Project Astoria, is aimed at Android and involves code built in to Windows itself that spots when an Android app is running and gives it the responses it expects.
Microsoft said this meant many Android apps would run with no changes on Windows mobile devices.
However, the way that Android is built means changes will have to be made to some apps.
The tactic is seen as a way for Microsoft to to boost its popularity and persuade developers to include Windows 10 in their plans.
While many apps are already available on the Windows store, some popular ones, such as Pinterest and Plants v Zombies 2, are absent.
Microsoft has also added tools that let Android apps reach some parts of Windows, such as its Cortana personal assistant, they would not otherwise be able to use.
CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber said: "The decision to embrace Android and iOS applications is an imperfect solution to an undesirable problem.
"Nonetheless, it's a necessary move to attract developers otherwise lost to Apple and Google."

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Anonymous messaging Secret app 'worth $100m' shut down

Anonymous messaging service Secret, at one stage thought to be valued at more than $100m (£66.5m), is shutting down.
Founder David Byttow said: "Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company" and that he believed in "failing fast".
The app was created, in part, to promote free speech but was criticised for promoting cyber-bullying.
User numbers have dwindled in recent months. Secret said it would return some of its $35m funding to investors.
Flash in the pan
It is a big turnaround for the company that was the talk of Silicon Valley, both among investors and users of the app, just a year ago.

Founded in 2013 by two former Google employees, the company was backed by some big names including actor Ashton Kutcher, Alexis Ohanian - a founder of Reddit, and Google Ventures.
The anonymous nature of messaging on the app led to its early adoption by technology sector workers, who used it to post rumours of forthcoming products or company mergers.

It was also used for political discussion in Russia and in Israel.
But the service was criticised for allowing people to defame others while remaining anonymous. It was banned in Brazil for promoting cyber-bullying.
A redesign of the app last year prompted users to "think before they post" and made it easier for users to flag up abusive content.
But user numbers have been falling in recent months, with some of those remaining complaining of an increase in the number of posts of a sexual nature and that public chat had become dominated by users from Indonesia.
In his blog post on Medium, Mr Byttow said: "I believe in honest, open communication and creative expression, and anonymity is a great device to achieve it.
"But it's also the ultimate double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care.
"I look forward to seeing what others in this space do over time."
Secret is not the first app to attract millions of dollars in funding only to flop shortly afterwards.
In 2012, photo and video-sharing app Color closed just 12 months after its launch having raised $41m from investors.
In June that year, Napster founders, Shawn Fanning and Shaun Parker launched their video-chat site Airtime, attracting $33m in funding.
It had very limited success, with Fortune magazine reporting that it had had to be quietly relaunched two years later.

Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent
"The truth is that there is fierce competition right now to get in early on any start-up that looks buzzy - who wants to be the guy that turned down WhatsApp in 2009 or Snapchat in 2012?
And if that means throwing a few million dollars at companies which appear to have no moral or business compass, then so be it."
Read Rory's blog

In closing Secret just 16 months after its launch, Mr Byttow said: "This has been the hardest decision of my life and one that saddens me deeply."
"Unfortunately Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company."

Silicon Valley's Dave Goldberg dies

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur and SurveyMonkey Chief Executive Dave Goldberg has died suddenly at the age of 47, his family says.
Husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Goldberg was a former Yahoo executive before joining Surveymonkey in 2009.
He expanded the online survey company leading to a valuation of $2bn (£1.3bn), the Wall Street Journal says.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg described him as "an amazing person".
News of Goldberg's death was posted on Facebook by his brother, Robert.
"It's with incredible shock and sadness that I'm letting our friends and family know that my amazing brother, Dave Goldberg, beloved husband of Sheryl Sandberg, father of two wonderful children, and son of Paula Goldberg, passed away suddenly last night," he wrote.
Under Dave Goldberg, SurveyMonkey grew from a handful of employees to more than 450 and acquired 25 million customers.
His fortunes was closely linked to those of Silicon Valley - a media company founded by him, Launch Media, was taken over by Yahoo in 2001, just after the "dotcom bubble" burst.
In a profile by Business Insider, Goldberg describes how he and a friend started Launch Media, which delivered music online.
"I decided I had to start something. It was more the motivation to try running my own thing than because I had some brilliant idea."