Failing to find MAC address

Six hours with iOS 11

Today is release day for iOS 11, Apple’s newest ver­sion of the oper­at­ing sys­tem for iPhones and iPads. This is not news. As of about 1pm East­ern time, the update is avail­able for down­load and instal­la­tion on sup­port­ed devices. Mono­chro­mat­ic Out­look sac­ri­ficed an iPhone1My iPad is stuck at iOS 9. for the glo­ry of being your guinea pig.2No ani­mals were harmed in the mak­ing of this blog post.

The update was per­formed on an iPhone 6, a mod­el which is almost three years old. Some fea­tures will not be avail­able for this device even after the update. This ought to pro­vide a guess at how the OS upgrade affects per­for­mance on old­er devices.3I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that three years is too soon for obso­les­cence. It took almost an hour to down­load, which isn’t sur­pris­ing. A zil­lion oth­er peo­ple tried to install it at the same time. After that, the install ran for about 15 minutes.

Mostly looks the same in regular use

There are no major inter­face changes for the ways we’ve been doing things for ten years. The icons for built-in apps have got­ten a lit­tle bold­er, with thick­er lines and sim­pler iconog­ra­phy. The type of app names now scales with the length of the app’s name, which means the whole name is vis­i­ble, but also means that for some apps the title isn’t legible.

No new pay feature (for anyone)

Did you hear about how Apple was going to make it pos­si­ble to send mon­ey by text mes­sage or use Siri to send pay­ments? Well, they pulled that out of the beta. I’m OK with that. I would­n’t have been excit­ed to try using it, but I don’t want to knock it either.

Of all the fea­tures Apple should avoid launch­ing if not ready, the one where the phone auto­mat­i­cal­ly drains your bank account should be at the top of the list.4Espe­cial­ly if your friends know about the Dol­phi­nAt­tack

More NFC features. Someday.

The iPhone has had near-field com­mu­ni­ca­tion sup­port for a cou­ple of years now but with­out the capa­bil­i­ty for any third-par­ty prod­ucts to take advan­tage of it. With iOS 11 this has changed. How­ev­er, the iPhone still won’t talk to a Yubikey so I’m unclear what the point is.5I’m sure there are lots of great things that can be done with NFC on iPhone. But pass­word secu­ri­ty is the thing I’m inter­est­ed in

Um, because security. Or something.

Start­ing with iOS 11, apps can no longer read MAC address­es of oth­er machines on the net­work. This is an obsta­cle for net­work util­i­ties like IP Net­work Scan­ner and Fing. It must be the result of some secu­ri­ty con­cern. Per­haps peo­ple were writ­ing apps that report­ed every­one’s MAC address­es back to the app authors. Shame on them, but these util­i­ties are so handy for trou­bleshoot­ing net­work prob­lems (or prob­lems with machines on the net­work) that I’d real­ly hope that the authors find a way to work some­thing out with Apple.

Unless of course they were the ones col­lect­ing peo­ple’s net­work data.

Goodbye 32-bit apps

There’s been a series of app updates in recent weeks promis­ing iOS 11 com­pat­i­bil­i­ty and seem­ing­ly no oth­er fea­tures. This is because iOS 11 removes sup­port for 32-bit apps. If an app isn’t 64-bit, it won’t run any more.

Going through the apps that were already on the phone showed that most apps on my own phone con­tin­ue to work. How­ev­er, there were some excep­tions. When those apps are run, a mes­sage pops up inform­ing us that «the devel­op­er of this app needs to update it to work with iOS 11». Among the apps which no longer work:

  • Hel­veti­ca vs Ari­al a fun game for typog­ra­phy geeks. How fast can you dis­cern Hel­veti­ca from Arial?
  • Social Mon­keys client for the microblog­ging platform.
  • Brain­Hack plays bin­au­r­al tones at a low vol­ume, pur­port­ed­ly to change mood and state of mind.
  • Cham­bers 200 Words You Should­n’t Trust The folks at Cham­bers Dic­tio­nary made a list of words that are used in mis­lead­ing ways.
  • Alame­da Free Library I don’t live in Alame­da any more, but it’s too bad to see that the Alame­da Free Library’s app will stop working.
  • Quick­Elem inter­ac­tive peri­od­ic table of elements.
  • PhotoForge2 Photo­Forge is a real­ly good pho­to edi­tor that has been unsup­port­ed since Yahoo hired its dev team and killed the app but still worked until today.
  • Open­VBX app inter­faced with the Open­VBX web appli­ca­tion to make phone calls and send text mes­sages using one’s own web­serv­er (and Twilio).
  • Mho A darn shame to see this go. Mho is a game made by Adafruit to get prac­tice iden­ti­fy­ing resis­tor col­or codes.
  • iSSH This is prob­a­bly the biggest dis­ap­point­ment. I’ll have to decide on anoth­er ssh client to use. iSSH saved the day once when a serv­er crashed while I was on vaca­tion in Ten­nessee. Is typ­ing shell com­mands on a phone fun? No. Did it do the job? Yes.

QR code reading built in to the camera app

QR Code being detected by iOS camera

Now this reminds me of the Apple that just gets things right — an Apple we don’t see enough of any more — and it’s a fea­ture they aren’t even hyp­ing. There are a ton of QR code read­er apps out there, some with a lot of fea­tures. Apple built the QR code read­er right into the phone app.

Point the cam­era at a QR code, and a pop­up noti­fies you of the con­tents of the code. If it’s a link, it offers to open the web page. Oth­er­wise, the con­tents of the code can be copied to the clip­board. There’s no sep­a­rate app to open, no spe­cial con­fig­u­ra­tion to enable it, it’s just there being handy.

What else?

Control Center Music widget

A lot has already been writ­ten about the revamp of the Con­trol Cen­ter. The new arrange­ment is ele­gant, but it’s still an incre­men­tal improve­ment. There are more func­tions avail­able tak­ing up the whole screen instead of being divid­ed into mul­ti­ple «pages» to swipe between. The biggest dif­fer­ence is quite wel­come, though: a long tap of one of the wid­gets will make the wid­get grow and (usu­al­ly) pro­vide more infor­ma­tion. The music play­er wid­get, for exam­ple, will expand to pro­vide a more com­plete con­troller for the music play­er. The flash­light, which used to just turn on or off, can be adjust­ed in brightness.

The per­for­mance of this one device does­n’t seem to have degrad­ed, and it’s too soon to tell whether the bat­tery life has been effect­ed. I don’t have any­thing to offer along those lines at this point. I haven’t expe­ri­enced any crash­es or oth­er prob­lems, but that does­n’t mean much.

This is not meant to be a com­plete review; I’ll leave that to the peo­ple who have been using the beta and release can­di­date for more than the few hours I’ve been look­ing at the phone. Those review­ers will also have the ben­e­fit of access to iPads, where I under­stand a lot of changes have been made in the split-screen modes and the ways in which iOS multitasks.

  • 1
    My iPad is stuck at iOS 9.
  • 2
    No ani­mals were harmed in the mak­ing of this blog post.
  • 3
    I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that three years is too soon for obsolescence.
  • 4
    Espe­cial­ly if your friends know about the Dol­phi­nAt­tack
  • 5
    I’m sure there are lots of great things that can be done with NFC on iPhone. But pass­word secu­ri­ty is the thing I’m inter­est­ed in

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