Get Your iPhone Fix

With the launch of Apple's iPhone just one day away (okay: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 10 seconds according to iphonecountdown.com), global phone-hysteria levels are at an all-time high. We're here to guide you through the mountains of coverage with pre-screened links to the most interesting bits.

Apple's press embargo on iPhone reviews was lifted Tuesday at 6pm, leading to a web-wide case of iPhone Mania: as reviews from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Newsweek hit the web, millions of iPhone fans clicked madly from one article to the next. Don't have the time (or energy) to read all four pieces of phone-related journalism? Check out Gizmodo's iPhone Review Matrix, which condenses the reviews into a handy chart.

For the past week, Apple has steadily posted additional iPhone information, apparently in an attempt to keep the iPhone faithful supplied with new videos and web content every day. Some highlights: the iPhone Guided Tour is a 24-minute video showing many of the phone's features, including tantalizing close-ups of a real live iPhone (gasp!) operated by a spokesmodel in a strangely Steve Jobs-esque outfit. If that's not enough geekery for you, check out the iPhone Activation & Sync video whose most exciting fact is: you don't activate the phone at the store -- instead you take it home, plug it into your Mac or PC, and activate it through iTunes (and yes, you can even transfer an existing phone number to AT&T service from within iTunes). But wait, there's more! If you still haven't downloaded enough iPhone videos, turn your gaze to the iPhone keyboard demo, which shows you how to go from hunt-and-peck to two-thumb-typing-ninja in just a few short days.

Because I know this still isn't enough for some of us, I'll throw in links to Get Ready for iPhone, a guide to what you should be doing now in order to get up and running Friday night. You may have heard about Greg Packer, the professional line-sitter who's first in line for an iPhone at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store (he has a blog about it), but perhaps more interesting is David Clayman, who is documenting the experience of being second in line. Madness or awesomeness? You decide.

Finally, I leave you with the iPhone rate plans. The short version: sixty bucks a month minimum, two-year contract required. Start checking under the couch cushions while you browse the AT&T Coverage Viewer and find a store where you can spend your Friday waiting for the phone. And if you're not getting a real iPhone, try making your own out of paper.

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Ruined a Photo By Blinking? Facebook Can Fix It With AI
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Next time you blink in an otherwise flawless photo, don't be so quick to hit the "delete" button on your phone. As The Verge reports, Facebook is testing a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to make closed eyes look naturally open.

Facebook engineers Brian Dolhansky and Cristian Canton Ferrer described the technology behind the AI in a paper published June 18. They used a type of machine learning called generative adversarial network or GAN. It works by looking at a database of pictures and using that information to generate new imagery where there wasn't any before.

This type of AI has been used to design clothing and video game levels in the past. To get it to work with faces, Facebook engineers showed the system photos taken of people when their eyes were open. After "learning" the subject's eye shape, size, and color, the AI used that data to superimpose a new set of eyes over the blinking lids. The feature still has some trouble working with glasses, long bangs, and pictures taken at an angle, but when it does what it's supposed to, it's hard to tell the photo was ever retouched.

Faces with blinking and open eyes.
Facebook

Facebook isn't the first company to use AI to salvage photographs with closed eyes. In 2017, Adobe added an "Open Closed Eyes" feature to Photoshop Elements that also uses AI to generate a pair of eyes that match those of the blinking subject. For it to work, users first have to show the system several photos of the subject with their eyes open.

Facebook, which already holds a database of pictures of many of its users, seems like a perfect fit for this type of technology. The social media site is still testing it out, but based on the success of early experiments, they may consider making it available to users in the not-too-distant future. And because Facebook owns Instagram, it's possible that the eye-opening feature will eventually be applied to Instagram posts and Stories as well.

[h/t The Verge]

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Apple Wants to Make It Easier for 911 Dispatchers to Figure Out Where You Are In an Emergency
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A few weeks ago, I dialed 911 from a sidewalk in my neighborhood to alert the police of a lost child who had asked me for help. "What's your location?" the dispatcher asked. I had no idea; it was a small side street whose name I had never bothered to learn. I had to run to the end of the block and stare up at the street sign, and when the dispatcher wasn't familiar with the name, either, I had to spell it out, letter-by-letter.

Soon, it may not be quite so difficult to alert emergency services of your location. The Wall Street Journal reports that a forthcoming update to Apple's iOS will automatically send out your phone's location to emergency call centers when you're on the phone with 911.

The update is part of a partnership with RapidSOS, a technology company founded to make it easier for first responders to reach people in an emergency. It aims to make it as simple to find a 911 caller using a cell phone as it is to find one using a landline.

Landline systems can deliver your exact address to emergency services, but cell phone carriers currently only convey your approximate location, with even less accuracy than Google Maps or Uber can. It might be off by as much as a few hundred yards, which can make a substantial difference if you're waiting for life-saving care. The FCC has ruled that by 2021, all cell phone carriers must be able to locate emergency callers within 165 feet, 80 percent of the time—but that's years away.

The new update would come with iOS 12, which is expected to be released later this year. The data automatically sent by your iOS would be different from that data your cell phone carrier sends. It will use Apple's HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), a system that estimates location based on cell towers, GPS, and Wi-Fi access, sending that information over to emergency call systems using RapidSOS's technology. RapidSOS isn't used by all 911 call centers in the U.S., but the company reports that it will be used by the majority by the end of the year.

In a press release, Apple promises that user data will only be available for emergency use, and that the responding 911 call center will only have access to your location data for the duration of your call.

I wasn't in a hurry when I called 911, and I had the time and the ability to jog down the street and find a sign to figure out where I was. In most emergency situations, the few extra seconds or minutes it could take to pinpoint your own location might be a matter of life and death. As more Americans give up their landlines and go wireless-only, better emergency services location tech will be vital.

[h/t MarketWatch]

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