East End Tech: iTry to Answer iMaginary Readers’ Questions

Samsung Galaxy
Samsung Galaxy, Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns

We’re deep into September, which means you can get lost in the Corn Maze at Fairview Farm. Or you can lose your kids in the crowd at Hank’s Pumpkintown. Good times all around.

It seems like a good time to squeeze in one last mailbag before summer 2013 is over. These are real questions from imaginary readers. Here we go.

What’s the deal with the new iPhone 5S? Should I buy it? – Charlotte, Montauk

I’m glad you asked. The latest iPhone release produced its usual buzz and even had a few surprise features. The camera is improved, an important upgrade as Samsung and Nokia are making huge advances in zoom and flash technology. The touchscreen is also larger—big enough to contain a sixth row of App icons—even though the phone itself is only one centimeter longer than the 4S.

Apple also released the 5C, a low-cost model, which comes in a variety of snazzy colors. According to Apple, the “C” stands for “Color,” but it really stands for “Cheap.” The 5C retails for $99 but stores are selling it for as low as $59. A perfect first phone for your kid.

The iPhone’s most interesting new feature is the fingerprint sensor technology. It lets you activate your phone without using a pass code, a huge convenience for anyone trying to send texts while driving. (Just kidding, don’t do that. Seriously.)

But phone fingerprinting opens the door to another question…

Privyet, Dr. Gadget! Will the new iPhone make it easier for the CIA and NSA to spy on people? Can I move back home now? It’s cold here. – E. Snowden, somewhere in Russia

Privyet, Ed! Hope you’re settling in nicely. There’s been a lot of chatter about the fingerprint sensor. Conspiracy theorists are calling it the “great leap forward” in government spying. I’m not sure I agree.

In theory, there could be some great server in the sky, with Apple sending everyone’s iPhone fingerprints to a central database. But then what? Do the powers that be track everyone playing “Temple Run?”

As David Pogue astutely pointed out: If the NSA really wanted your fingerprints, they have far easier ways to get them. So to answer your question Ed, I don’t think the 5S is a spy phone. I think it will help everyone protect their phones by making it easier to lock and protect them.

Who needs the iPhone? Have you seen the Samsung Watch Phone? – Cheung, South Korea

Now we’re getting somewhere. I’ve heard about the Watch Phone, which Samsung calls the “Galaxy Gear.” I can’t believe it’s not getting more buzz. Here are three random things you need to know:

1. It debuted on September 25. But not for folks in the U.S. and Japan. We need to wait until October.

2. It comes with a 1.9 megapixel camera, and supposedly you can set it up to take automatic photos at regular intervals. This is like the Memoto, the “life blogging” camera I wrote about earlier this year. Only this model goes on your wrist, which means there will be plenty of awkward self-portraits of your chin and nostrils.

3. It also plays music and has lots of apps—but it only connects with the Galaxy Note. So unless you have that particular tablet, it’s probably best to wait and see.

Who needs this Samsung Watch? Wait until you see the iWatch! It’s gonna make the Galaxy look like an Atari. – T. Cook, Cupertino

Tim! Glad you’re a reader. No reason to hate on Samsung; we are down with the iWatch. It’s been in the works for some time now. You’ve filed a patent for it and even promised some “amazing new hardware” in 2014. Surely you weren’t referring to Apple TV, were you?

Ball’s in your court, dog. Tell us when it’s coming out.

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