Bad headline advice: Driving home the point with a hammer

Dramatic headlines about Apple can lead to bad advice.


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They say you should never read the comments but sometimes it’s the headlines you shouldn’t read. Today we will look at bad headlines and the pundits who love to make them.

Writing for ZDNet, Bill Detwiler says “Foldable phones: Why you should wait for a folding 5G Apple iPhone.”

Unicorns: Why you should wait for a rainbow-colored one.

Okay, yes, like Detwiler, The Macalope also advises you not to buy any of the current crop of foldable phones unless you have been presented with some kind of Brewster’s Millions-type situation and even then you can probably do better. But if you’re waiting for a folding iPhone, you could be waiting a long time. Possibly forever. Better hold out for the 6G folding iPhone or even the 27H with the retro-reflective panels that render it invisible to the naked eye or the QuadrillionZ that’s more of a concept than a physical device.

The Macalope wasn’t surprised to see Detwiler walk back the headline advice about two-thirds of the way through the article, because it’s not good advice.

Wait for Apple (and others) to release their foldable phones

Apple is usually the adult in the room and is the one that waits until things are fully baked before introducing them, but it isn’t the only company that can introduce new technologies successfully. In fact, it’s been late to a few, such as larger screen sizes. If you want a foldable phone, no one currently makes one you should consider, but that doesn’t mean only Apple can do it.

Meanwhile, writing for Inc., Jason Aten says “If You Really Want to Protect Your iPhone, Stop Using Face ID Now.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Jim.)

Turn Face ID off. Shut your phone down. Put it back in the box. Encase the box in cement and sink in the Mariana Trench. Now your phone is secure.

Unless you had an iCloud backup.

The article isn’t as bad as the headline which is good because the headline is terrible. Reading the headline, one might get the mistaken impression that Face ID is severely flawed. It’s not. Aten notes that neither Touch ID or Face ID is “perfect,” which is true but also not the point of these technologies. Apple recognized that lots of people were either using a 4-digit passcode or no passcode and wanted to give them an easier way to unlock their phones while using a longer passcode that’s hard to crack.

Touch ID has already been shown to be vulnerable to high-tech fingerprint copies, and there are examples of other devices that have been unlocked using a photograph of the user's face.

That is to say, not iPhones. “You should really worry about Face ID because these other facial recognition technologies suck” is not a valid argument. It’s also a little ironic that the article on Touch ID spoofing that Aten links to in support of his premise is titled “Why I Hacked Apple’s TouchID [sic], And Still Think It Is Awesome.”

For most people, suggesting they turn off Touch ID or Face ID is bad advice. It creates friction that prompts bad behaviors like shorter or no passcode. Yes, if you want the most security for your device, use a strong passcode and turn off the biometric means of unlocking it. Also keep your money in your mattress and your bodily fluids in jars in the basement. It’s the only way to be sure.

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