Mavericks uses ambient light sensor data to detect movement, delay sleep mode

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An independent app developer has discovered that the latest version of Apple's desktop operating system taps the built-in ambient light sensor in MacBook Pros and iMacs to enhance user presence detection.

MacBook Air backlit keyboard


The ability to spin down a Mac's hard drive, turn off its display, or put it to sleep based on whether or not it is actively in use has long been a part of OS X, but until now it was based solely on mouse and keyboard input. Mavericks reportedly brings the ambient light sensor into the fold, according to the developer of clock and weather app Living Earth. The report was first picked up by The Verge.

The developer, Moshen Chen, initially believed the computer's iSight camera was doing the work, but subsequent testing by other developers revealed that to not be the case. The Verge confirmed the reports, writing that "after covering the camera but not the light sensor, we were able to delay sleep mode by changing the ambient lighting conditions."

Apple has included the ambient light sensor in every generation of MacBook Pro, as well as recent iMacs and standalone displays, to dynamically adjust the brightness of the backlights for the keyboard and display. Apple is not known to have previously used the sensor for any other purpose, though some third-party developers have taken advantage of access to the part.

Mavericks was released at Apple's Oct. 22 special event, and has been swiftly adopted by Mac users. Data shows Mavericks' adoption rate climbing at three times the speed of its predecessor, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23

    I like it. I'm using the free App Caffeine...and sometimes I forget to switch it off! :)

     

    Edit: Thought about it as I was typing...went into Caffeine's preferences and set it to 1 hr. max.

     

    I'm an idiot! :)

  • Reply 2 of 23
    softekysofteky Posts: 132member
    "...taps the built-in ambient light sensor in MacBook Pros and iMacs to enhance user presence detection, allowing for gains in battery life and power savings."

    How exactly does a mechanism that *prevents* system sleep result in battery life gains and power saving. Sorry, I'm just not following the logic here.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,680member
    softeky wrote: »
    "...taps the built-in ambient light sensor in MacBook Pros and iMacs to enhance user presence detection, allowing for gains in battery life and power savings."

    How exactly does a mechanism that *prevents* system sleep result in battery life gains and power saving. Sorry, I'm just not following the logic here.

    To you have a sleep timer or do you manually set it to sleep? If it uses the ambient light sensor, it'll go to sleep when it doesn't detect movement.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

     

    I like it. I'm using the free App Caffeine...and sometimes I forget to switch it off! :)

     

    Edit: Thought about it as I was typing...went into Caffeine's preferences and set it to 1 hr. max.

     

    I'm an idiot! :)


     

    HA!  Then I'm an idiot, too.  I never thought to do that either. :)

  • Reply 5 of 23
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Keep an eye on the use of the microphone if the NSA ever releases an app.
  • Reply 6 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

     

     

    HA!  Then I'm an idiot, too.  I never thought to do that either. :)


    Thanks, that makes me feel better-for some reason! :)

  • Reply 7 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by softeky View Post



    How exactly does a mechanism that *prevents* system sleep result in battery life gains and power saving. Sorry, I'm just not following the logic here.

     

    Unnecessary sleep wastes time while your system is running. It also wastes additional power as apps and things like gmail have to reestablish and resync their network connections. Watch CPU activity as you wake from sleep. If you have a mechanical hard disk, spinning it down just to spin it back up is a waste of power too.

     

    The worst, however, are the older models that safe sleep every time. I think these were all the models with removable batteries. It takes a ton of CPU time to compress and write the contents of RAM to the hard disk.

  • Reply 8 of 23
    Conspiracy nuts scream "I don't wanna be tracked" and "spied on" in 3... 2... 1....
  • Reply 9 of 23
    Should be renamed SantaOS... "It knows when you are sleeping, it knows when you're awake..." :)
  • Reply 10 of 23
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    I kid you not, I was just thinking of Moshen Chen's app before I clicked on this story. I was wondering how Living Earth will look on the iPad mini retina.

    It's one of the first apps I got years ago when I got my first iPod touch with a retina-ish screen. Very nice main graphic.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    gtr wrote: »
    Keep an eye on the use of the microphone if the NSA ever releases an app.

    You should assume the NSA already has access to your mic and camera and can tap in without your knowledge. I keep mine covered at all times...and no, that is no longer considered 'paranoid behavior.' I invite anyone to review the many Snowden revelations and present an argument.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    You should assume the NSA already has access to your mic and camera and can tap in without your knowledge.

     

    Little green light, boyo.

  • Reply 13 of 23
    Little green light, boyo.

    If they can activate our phone's mic without our knowledge, it is reasonable to assume the same for a camera without a green light activating.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/06/07/nsa_surveillance_iphones_make_snooping_easy_for_spies_and_law_enforcement.html
  • Reply 14 of 23
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    If they can activate our phone's mic without our knowledge, it is reasonable to assume the same for a camera without a green light activating.

     

    It’s hardwired.

  • Reply 15 of 23
    It’s hardwired.

    I will defer to your expertise on this one.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    I will defer to your expertise on this one.

     

    Hang on, I’ll also find the keynote where Steve says it. No one should have to go by some third-party’s words.

     

    It wasn’t the intro to the standalone one (since that didn’t have a light, but a shutter), and the iMac G5 rev3 (first computer to get it built in) didn’t have a keynote, so I think it’s MacWorld 2006. Watching keynotes now, hang on.

  • Reply 17 of 23
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    So future SciFi movies will have dimmed screens when no one is on the bridge, right?

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/34446/width/500/height/1000[/IMG]
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    So future SciFi movies will have dimmed screens when no one is on the bridge, right?




     

    LOL... In the future, privacy and individual rights will be a distant memory unless people fight for them.

  • Reply 19 of 23
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    You should assume the NSA already has access to your mic and camera and can tap in without your knowledge. I keep mine covered at all times...and no, that is no longer considered 'paranoid behavior.' I invite anyone to review the many Snowden revelations and present an argument.

     

    As I've said many times on this subject, I REALLY feel sorry for the person at the NSA tasked with analyzing my data and life.  If that person exists, he or she is going to die of boredom quite quickly.  :)

  • Reply 20 of 23
    LOL... In the future, privacy and individual rights will be a distant memory unless people fight for them.

    Excellent response to a lame attempt a humour.

    Yes, it certainly looks this way. And I'm not too certain this is the right way.
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