More on Apple's new iOS15: what if you lose the iPhone?

You could be toast. But now you don't have to carry the wallet and that's okay!

Apple made a slew of announcements this week about new features that will be coming to iPhones, iPads and Macs in the fall, and many are pretty exciting.

You can knock Apple for a lot of things, but the yearly software update is pretty cool. You get new features for your devices, whether you go and buy a new one or not and they’re free. All you have to do is download iOS15 or MacOS when they are updated in the fall to participate.

My favorite, which I wrote about the other day, is adding the driver’s ID to the Wallet app.

Over the past few years, I’ve loved ditching the credit card and paying with my phone instead. It’s quicker, and seems less susceptible to fraud since I’m not handing my card away or making my digits visible to anyone. True, it puts me into more danger if I was to lose the phone, but then, you could say the same thing about losing a wallet or keys.

My ShieldOn iPhone case/wallet has room for credit cards, driver’s ID and a little cash—usually a dollar or two. We’re a mostly cashless society now, so if I can ditch the keys, physical credit cards and ID, I could travel even lighter.

Right now, the key solutions aren’t ready for prime time. Digital locks for the home from companies like Yale and Honeywell are okay, but too hard to install and operate, and the car needs to be tackled. The FOB that sits on your person to start new cars from many newer manufacturers is a step in the right direction, but what’s the point? Lose the FOB, and you’re not going anywhere. Apple has a technology available for this, but it’s currently only available on one model, new BMWs. More are to come, but expect a slow rollout, basically, only to new car buyers.

And having the digital driver’s license to show to TSA agents at airports with iOS15 is a great announcement, but Apple hasn’t disclosed which airports it will work with, or how soon. Expect a slow rollout on that one too.

What do you think? Are you concerned that a smartphone with your credit card information, driver’s license and potentially passport is just too much? What if you lose the phone? How will you get home? One idea: also travel with analog copies! Because realistically, losing a smartphone is just as lousy as the missing wallet. If you’re concerned, you could always walk around with both. Just like the people who print out their airline boarding passes from home.

Other new Apple iOS15 features I’m intrigued with:

I want to stop typing in passwords all day long to the websites I visit. I use a password manager, Dashlane, and that helps, but on mobile phones and the TV, I get asked way too many times a day to type in the hard to remember credentials. So Apple announced a test to go passwordless, and instead have identity authorized on apps and websites by facial recognition or touch technology to log us in. Fantastic! This sounds great in theory, and I’m all for it, except that for me, Apple’s Face ID has never worked.

So I’ll believe Apple’s new reality when I see it, but I fear we’re still a few years away from it becoming real.

Photo words as text

I’m excited about an update that’s a ripoff of Google’s Lens feature: the ability to highlight text in a photo and copy and paste it elsewhere. Example: say I got robbed and my insurance company wants to know the serial number of my camera lens. I have the photo of the serial number, so I copy the serial number from the photo and can now paste it into an e-mail. Apple says we’ll be able to search for photos based on the words in the image.

Photos have entered the world of note taking in the smartphone era. So I love this.

Buyer beware: Spatial Audio

Apple is bringing the Dolby Atmos audio remix system, which re-imagines classic songs and takes them from 4 tracks to multiple tracks, to the Apple Music subscription service. Apple calls it spatial audio. Basically, artists can remix their songs into a new, audio experience so the sound “comes from all around and from above,” per Apple. Know that you won’t be getting the original, as the musicians originally recorded the songs. Music blogger Bob Lefsetz calls the experience “offensive…these are not the original records, they've been messed with, they're not even facsimiles, they're bastardizations.”

FaceTime goes Zoom—not excited

The other big announcement from Apple was opening up its FaceTime video chat app to be more like Zoom. My reaction to this is meh, as so many people have moved onto Zoom and Google Meet. The reason they switched is they they got a superior experience elsewhere. So this seems rather late to now let people with Android phones talk to Apple customers on FaceTime (finally!) and to offer better sound, since Zoom is so farther ahead here. Are you ready to go back to FaceTime?

The new iOS will be available to consumers in the fall, generally one week before the release of Apple’s new iPhone.

Stories I enjoyed reading this week:

Las Vegas reopens, but will people return?

How a LA Times profile launched Judge Judy’s amazing TV career

Turning photos into cartoons

She won a Pulitzer for her smartphone video

If you’ve been following my saga about the camera theft in San Francisco, the local CBS affiliate did a story that will break your heart. It’s all about the terrible rash of car break-ins in historic Fisherman’s Wharf, and the toll it’s taking on tourists and small businesses. No response from the SFPD about why it’s not cracking down on these incidents.

Jeff Updates

This week: I’ll be in Palm Springs with the one and only Sean Fujiwara filming a new episode of Photowalks. (Thank you Joyce Kiehl for the invite!) And the temps? 118 degrees. Poor timing award, but I can’t wait! If you’re in the desert, look for me.

Saturday: I’ll be playing jazz classics from the Great American Songbook on guitar at the Manhattan Beach Pier Roundhouse Aquarium from 3:30-6 with Paul Ellis.

Sunday: The Manhattan Beach Pier again, for the Summer Solstice Photowalk. It’s free, we start at 7, and you can sign-up here

Thanks as always for reading, watching and listening!

Jeff