Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen: The magic of Apple

Pre-orders for the new iPhone are rolling in in China. Photo / Getty Images
Pre-orders for the new iPhone are rolling in in China. Photo / Getty Images

There's still some of that old magic left in Apple product launches - or as some would describe it, inexplicable consumerist madness. People have started to queue up ahead of next week, since August 31 in fact, in the hope of being the first to score an iPhone 6.

The build-up for September 10 has hit China too. China's still not a high-income country but even then, preorders for the new and comparatively expensive iPhones with 4.7 and 5.5-inch screens are rolling in.

Giant telco China Mobile in Beijing had apparently pre-sold over 33,000 devices by the beginning of this week, if media reports from the country are to be believed. People are plonking down money for the iPhones without even knowing when they'll get them.

This must be incredibly galling to Apple competitors like Samsung, which overnight launched the Note 4 phablet or tabone device.

Take the new Note 4 device which has a 4.7-inch screen with an astounding 2,560 by 1,440 pixel resolution - same as the 30-inch monitor I'm writing this on, in fact. Not only that, but there's also the Galaxy Note Edge version with a screen that wraps around the edge of the device, which is quite a feat of engineering.

Read more:
Samsung unveils new curved phone
Apple sets the date - iPhone 6 tipped

But wait, there's more: the Note 4 has accoutrements like the Gear Virtual Reality gaming headset, as modelled below by Oculus VRt chief technology officer, John Carmack:

That's amazing stuff, but it's not, you know... an iPhone. Still, it looks like a very nice device and I hope I can take a look at it soon.

Going to the new iPhone, a preview of the new 4.7-inch version by Muscovite gadget publication Rozetked published overnight has already hit over four million views on YouTube.

App users: Tap here to view the Rozetked video

Looks OK... but it's just a phone, right?

There will probably be more hardware next week, maybe a new iPad and an iPod too, and the new versions of the iOS mobile and OS X operating systems should be ready by then - both have had beta updates recently.

Next week's launch is already marred, however, by the iCloud data breach that saw masses of celebrities' private pictures being lifted and posted in various Internet forums.

Whether or not this is Apple's fault is the topic of intense debate at the moment. Apple says its systems were not breached, at least not in the traditional manner.

That's partly correct: I don't think anyone, not even Apple which grew up during the personal computing revolution, could have predicted the growth of an obsessive, unscrupulous and totally unethical community of networked celeb-pix traders who stop at nothing to get what they want.

Security researcher Nik Cubrilovic has a good and very detailed summary of how these people go about their craft and it makes for disturbing reading.

Basically, any information from any source, social media, official records, you name it, can be used against you - and if your persona has any value, someone out there will be stalking you to collect data.

It's horrifying, but also one of the best arguments against the usual misogynist (yep, it's women being targetted by men again) victim-blaming that has followed the iCloud data breach.

Defending against these attacks by very persistent and determined large groups of data fossickers is close to impossible, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, the iCloud breach is liable to cause Apple some real pain. Some of the features expected to launch next week include health monitoring and financial apps.

As you can imagine, these will collect data on you and what you do with your money. For hackers, this means your value will go up by a huge amount.

Unless Apple has amazingly improved security to go with next week's product launch, as well as fast, in-depth mitigation procedures for the inevitable moment when users' privacy is breached, I'd rather they held off with the health and financial stuff.

Apple will have to accept that user security and privacy are from now on paramount and act accordingly. There can be no new iCloud data breach, essentially.

Smart chopsticks

For the China traveller who has it all, and is a bit worried about tucking into the delicious food over there, check out these amazing chopsticks.

App users: Tap here to watch the Smart Chopsticks video

These "kuiasou" chopsticks are apparently able to detect tainted oil - and the recycled variety scraped from sewers - and warn their users when the foul stuff is detected.

News of the smart sticks that can connect wirelessly to smartphones and computers have hit even the Wall Street Journal, but I wonder if it isn't an elaborate Baidu April's fool that's being repeated, based on this older YouTube clip from earlier this year.

Nice concept though.

- NZ Herald

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Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen is a technology journalist and writer living in Auckland. Apart from contributing to the New Zealand Herald over the years, he has written for the Guardian, Wired, PC World, Computerworld and ITnews Australia, covering networking, hardware, software, enterprise IT as well as the business and social aspects of computing. A firm believer in the principle that trying stuff out makes you understand things better, he spends way too much time wondering why things just don’t work.

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