Apple to ban iPhone cameras at concerts?

There are days when I love technology and then there are days when I hate to see the power that it can have. Apparently, Apple is developing software and hardware that can render an iPhone camera useless in very specific situations. According to them, infrared devices can be used to disable all “capturing” features of the camera and/or any other app that has capture capabilities!

How it works

Apple states that infrared devices could be installed on a stage for example and shoot out infrared signals into the audience. Anytime an iPhone is pointed toward the stage, the signals will tell the device not to allow capturing. Whether it will shut off the camera app completely or simply take a blacked out photo is unknown. However, Apple also states that the technology could be used to allow pictures to be taken, but apply a watermark to it declaring its copyright status.

On the flipside, this technology could be used as a search tool. Say you’re in a museum and you want to know more about a painting or sculpture. Simply take a picture of it and those same infrared signals could be used to send informational data to your device for further research.

I can think of at least two other big industries that might implement image blocking technology.


Apple iPhone concert picture
Today, more and more concerts and events are banning the use of cameras and recording devices. Long gone are the days where you went to a concert and you got to see the flashing lights of thousands of little cameras in the audience. In those days, nobody seemed to care because there was never anything on the consumer market that could be of any “print” quality for someone to bootleg. At best, you got a blurry, over-exposed shot of a performer on stage, which made good for your personal photo album, but could never be sold to Rolling Stone magazine.

Nowadays, anyone with a few hundred dollars can get insane quality cameras that fit into your pocket and with the use of sites like Facebook and Twitter, you could capitalize on so many different fronts when it comes to distributing content that you don’t own. While this could pose a negative threat to a musician, does it really warrant the use of device-disabling hardware? I mean seriously—with today’s concerts being so dark and in such large venues, do these artists really care about an iPhone picture floating around the Internet? You can’t zoom (with any usable quality) and you can’t flash adequately from far away, so what kind of pictures are you really going to get? Or maybe video…ok I can kind of see the point here, but how does this shaky, no-zoomed video taken from the top section compete with the official DVD release bound to hit the shelves?

I’d say who cares…let the fans get some memories for their Facebook page, prosecute only serious offenders of your copyrighted work and just sit back and be happy that people are actually buying your overpriced concert tickets. But I’m not a musician, so I guess I can’t relate.

Movie theatres

Now here’s probably the only valid reason I can think of to use this technology. Movie theatres already use night vision cameras to scope the audience looking for people who brought their camcorders into the latest blockbuster, but this new tech would literally put a stop to anyone planning on using an iPhone to record the film. Of course this doesn’t seem to address the issue of using some other video recording device, but if this takes off, I’m sure it’ll open plenty of doors for similar protections across a slew of other devices.

However, who really wants a copy of a movie that is likely to be very shaky, a little out of focus and has sound coming from a tiny tin speaker? Of course the argument could be made that if someone could watch a new release (of any quality), they would probably not spend the money going to the theatre to watch it. While this might be true for a very small number of people, I have to disagree. The way I look at it is if you really want to see a film in all it’s big-screen glory with chest-pounding sound and all, you’re going to buy a ticket. If you’re not, then you probably wouldn’t have watched it anyway, but figured you’d take a gander because you found a free download online. To me, nobody loses here.

Attention movie studios, go after the real threat…people who are making real copies of real DVD and Blu-ray discs because I can completely see people wanting to save 50% off of buying a copied version over the retail version of a movie. In this case, real money is lost.

Movie theatres can then focus on the real crime going on at the movies—patrons trying to sneak in cheaper candy and snacks from outside sources and those people that buy one ticket only to bounce around inside the theatre watching more than one movie on a given day. You know who you are!

My two cents

As a photographer, the thought of my camera being disabled is horrible. I understand where and when I can use a real camera, but I always look to my iPhone in times where I don’t have access to a real camera and as such, I would never expect to take “great” photos with it. What this means is if I’m taking pictures with my iPhone, it’s because I wanted to snap a quick shot of something funny and post it to my Facebook. Or maybe I just wanted to share a memory or two.

While I do understand that piracy and copyright infringement run rampant today, I think this is a bad solution. The day this technology is implemented is the day I no longer own an iPhone.

How To Hack The Facebook Image Bar

Ok so you’re not really hacking anything, but I figured using that word would grab more attention! With that said, this trick is nothing more than an easy manipulation of a new feature in Facebook. First of all, you’ll need to upgrade your account to the new profile layout if you haven’t already done so. You can do this by going to: Login and you’ll see the option to switch.

The New Layout

Also on that page will be a complete description of what visual changes will be made to your profile, but the only one we’re interested in is the new “snapshot” feature. This is the very top section of your profile that tells people some basic information about yourself:

My Facebook Snapshot
My Facebook Snapshot

Above, you can see the highlighted area. You can see what I call the Facebook image bar. It’s a collection of the last 5 photos that someone tagged you in. It puts them in order from left to right, meaning that all newly tagged photos will show up on the left side and move their way down the line.

Hacking (Manipulating) The Image Bar

As you can also see by the screenshot, I have hacked my image bar to show whenever anyone clicks on my profile. Naturally, I wanted to draw their attention to my site and I was not surprised to find out that people see those images before anything else on my profile! From a marketing standpoint, this is great news.

The process is generally easy, but if you’re using some intricate design work or you’d like to integrate your default profile pic into the mix as well, it can get a bit complicated. For basic instructions, follow these steps:

  1. Create an image that is 487 x 68px. (487px is counting the white spaces between each photo)
  2. Cut out the five images from your main image. Each of the five need to be 91 x 68px in size.
  3. Upload these five tiny images to your profile. It might be easier to create a separate photo album for them.
  4. Tag yourself in the photos one at a time. If your image needs to line up in a specific order, like mine, you’ll want to tag the last photo first and the first photo last. This way, they’ll show up in the correct order.

That’s it! When you’re done, go back to your main profile page and you’ll see your handy work.

Advanced Manipulation

Obviously there’s some small space between the tagged images, so your photos won’t line up perfectly (like mine), but if you’re dead set on getting the images cut with the spaces in the proper places, you’ll want to cut out the white space on your original image and then take what’s left and turn them into 5 separate images. Make note that the white space is exactly 8px wide.

I created a layered Adobe Photoshop® template that you can use to see where the cutouts will fall if you plan on using a full image to create all the tiny ones. Please note that this template was designed and sized from my own Facebook page. Yours may differ slightly in size and alignment. Use this template as a guide rather than a standard.

It’s super easy to use:

  1. Open the template in Adobe Photoshop®.
  2. Take the image you’d like to slice and dice and place it on a layer behind the cutout layer.
  3. Resize that image if necessary to fit into each of the 6 squares properly so it looks good.
  4. Cutout each image and save them separately.
  5. Upload all images to a new album (if preferred) on Facebook and make sure this album is visible to Everyone.
  6. Tag yourself in each of the smaller photos, but remember to tag the last photo in the lineup first!
  7. Take the 6th photo and make it your default picture and then you’re all set!

Here’s a sample of the template in use with a picture ready to be cutout: Facebook Image Bar Template Sample Facebook Image Bar Template Sample


As you may have already guessed, the number one issue with doing this modification is that anyone who tags you in photos will be able to destroy your work of art! However, it’s not hard to fix. Just hover your mouse over the image(s) that you want to remove and a little ‘X’ will appear in the corner–click on that and the image will be removed from the top bar, but it will retain your tag.

You can also have a little fun with this too! You can tag your friends in your images and your hacked image will appear on their pages as well! Be careful though…if you start putting up derogatory things on your friend’s pages, you may not have any friends left. Worse case scenario, you could be hearing from the Facebook team if people start logging complaints about you.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you run a website, you are more than welcome to repost some of my steps above as well as the template download, however, I must ask that you retain credit to me by posting a link back to this article and leaving my website information inside the template. Also, please don’t hotlink the template file from my server! Upload it to your server instead.