Apple


The E.U. Want To Enforce USB-C as a Universal Common Charger by 2024

24th September 2021

Louise Guillot, writing for Politico:

The European Commission is set to present a legislative proposal on Thursday to force manufacturers to use a common charger for electronic devices, according to a Commission official closely involved in the file.

The proposal will require all manufacturers to harmonize the charging points on devices — using a USB-C charging point — and to make their software protocol for fast charging interoperable between brands and devices.

The main target of the new legislation is U.S. tech giant Apple, which has pushed back against EU attempts to standardize chargers through binding requirements, arguing that it will hamper innovation.

This is such a fundamentally stupid proposal.

How can you enforce all phone manufactures to use the same charging port?

What happens when USB-C isn't good enough anymore?

What about the massive number of lightning cables that would be unusable by the current iPhone users? Does that waste not matter?

What if a manufacturer wants to only support wireless charging?

John Gruber echoed my feelings in the last sentence of his post[1]:

And people in the E.U. wonder why England wanted out, and why nearly all the major tech companies are from the U.S. and Asia.


  1. Of course, it was the UK that left the EU, not just England. But I think everyone gets the point. ↩︎

My Thoughts on the Apple Event

16th September 2021

It’s been a little over 24 hours since the Apple event, and I’ve of course been thinking about the new products that were announced, so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts.

iPad

Nice to see it get an upgrade. Nothing exactly to shout about, but I don’t think this iPad is meant for that. Still a great computer for a reasonable price.

iPad Mini

Finally. The redesign we’ve been waiting for. I expect this to be a very popular device for reading and light browsing, and could probably serve as a pretty good gaming device too.

I have a 12.9” iPad Pro and also an iPhone 12 (for now), and I personally don’t feel like I need a product in between them. But I can definitely see the appeal.

Apple Watch Series 7

Not so square edges. But overall a pretty bland increment in my opinion. I wasn’t expecting much, but I thought it would at least get a new chip.

iPhone 13/13 Mini

Honestly, I found the base model 13 and 13 Mini pretty disappointing. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, and others have suggested that this is an “S” year.

It’s got the new A15 chip, the cameras have a better sensor to let in more light (with the same aperture as iPhone 12), a tiny bit more battery life, and a few new colours. An improvement, but like many of the other products, nothing to get excited about. Especially if you’re on the last generation.

I even felt that the iPhone 13 video could have been for the iPhone 12, barring the new cinematic mode. Which, while I’m on the subject, I’m not too convinced by yet. Partially on how good it will be at artificially focussing on subjects without weird blurring on the edges of subjects, and also how much use it will be to the average user.

iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max

Okay, so while I’m a bit disappointed by the base model iPhone 13, at least the Pro models excited me a bit.

The iterative changes over the previous generation are expected, but it’s the new cameras that grabbed my attention. Because, although the base model 13 gained new sensors for the wide and ultra-wide cameras, the Pro gained a new 3x telephoto (up from 2.5x in the 12/12 Pro), a new ultra-wide camera with a wider f/1.8 aperture (from f/2.4 In the 12 Pro), and also a new wide camera with a wider f/1.5 aperture (from f/1.6 in the 12.

It wasn’t just the aperture that changed, there’s also sensor improvements, a seemingly massive improvement in low-light capabilities, Night Mode everywhere, and most likely a lot of other things. But the other 2 main features I’m looking forward to trying out is the 2mm minimal focus distance on the ultra-wide camera, and also the customisable photographic styles. I can already imagine setting certain lighting/colour adjustments when in various locations. For example, getting softer colours new the beach, or maybe boosting the contrast and enhancing the colours in a more urban environment.

However, I can imagine that if I wasn’t interested in the camera improvements, this new model would feel as bland as the base model 13.

Overall

If I look at this announcement as a whole, I’m disappointed. I think that with all the fanfare surrounding the iPhone Apple Events, the large amount of production time that Apple have been putting into the recent digital events, and my own personal expectations, I thought we’d see a lot more than what were mostly incremental upgrades.

I know Apple can’t invent a new product category every year, so of course, the only thing left is to iterate on their existing products. But I would have expected a little more than what we got, maybe just a few things to get really excited about.

To take it to an even wider scale, I think this event follows what my feelings have been regarding Apple during Tim Cook’s reign. I know he was at the helm for the Apple Watch and AirPods. But overall, I feel like a Tim Cook Apple has a sense of stability, quite a few product lines, with them all receiving regular, iterative improvements, and everything slowly getting better every year. But, I wouldn’t say that Apple is an exciting company under Tim, I wouldn’t go far as to say they’re boring, but over the past few years, I’ve noticed myself becoming a lot less enthused about Apple. Maybe that’s just me, but it’s something I’ve been feeling for a while.

How Do I Know if the Grass Is Greener?

24th July 2021

For the past couple days I've been thinking about getting an Android phone. Not because I want to "make the switch", but becuase I've had an iPhone for over 10 years. And while I think the iPhone is a good phone, how do I really know that I don't love Android even more if I've never tried?

That, and because I think Android 12 looks really nice with the new Material You design.

And while iOS has recently gained widgets on the Home Screen, the design has largely stayed the same. Maybe that’s just a negative perspective, but after 10 years it can seem a tad boring.


But that’s when I start to think about the Apple ecosystem. How I’ve slowly built up a collection of movies, books, music, and apps that purely exist in this world. Add that to the various Apple devices I own, that each add their own weight to the locked-in feeling.

So it’s not like I’m ever going to make some major switch without truly thinking about it. But when I really think about how much I feel locked-in, I think back to my younger self, and my feelings towards technology back then. I liked the look of Apple products, but I mainly liked having endless control of my computer, I tinkered a lot, I broke things a lot, and I actually learned quite a bit along the way.

In general I preferred to be an opinionated user, rather than having an opinionated computer telling me what I could do.

While I’m not going all out attack on Apple — I use and enjoy many Apple products — but sometimes I get tired about the lock-in feeling, and start to think what it’s like on the other side.

And if I’m being truly honest, I think the best looking smartphones are the Google Pixels that come in white/black combinations, with my favourite being the Pixel 2 XL. That might sound pretty weird coming from an iPhone owner and app developer.

Maybe I need to come to terms with things and either settle for the closed ecosystem, or venture out and try new things. Because by being fully immersed in the Apple ecosystem, I’m saying to myself that I want every decision regarding my personal computing, whether it be the mobile computer, laptop computer, or the computer on my wrist, to be dependant on the ideals and decisions of one company.

The MagSafe Battery Pack

14th July 2021

Apple has just released the product that I think we've all been expecting ever since the recent addition of MagSafe in the recent iPhone lineup. It's a product that simply makes sense.

As you may expect, it's by no means the biggest battery pack you can get for your iPhone, with the capacity standing at 1460mAh, and it's not clear what this will mean in terms of actual extra use time. However, when you compare it to the iPhone 12 battery capacities, you can probably get a rough estimate:

  • iPhone 12 mini capacity: 2227 mAh
  • iPhone 12/12 Pro capacity: 2815 mAh
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max capacity: 3687 mAh

So maybe if you've got a 12 or 12 Pro you can expect somewhere near 50% extra battery life? I'd be fine with that. But I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Regarding charging speed, the battery pack can charge an iPhone with up to 5W of power when not plugged in, and up to 15W when plugged into a 20W or higher power source. 5W is the typical rate for a standard wireless charger, so there's no fast charging on the go. However, the benefit of MagSafe is that it simply attaches to the back of the device, so it's not as inconvenient to use online attaching it via a cable to a battery pack.

I can see this as the perfect solution for a travel charger. As when you're out and about, you have an extra punch of battery to get you through the day, but also the battery pack can serve as a wireless charger when plugged in. So I guess in that case, it's two products in one.

Another interesting part of this battery pack is that it can also be charged by the iPhone. So if you need to use a cable directly with your iPhone for whatever reason, your iPhone will then use reverse charging to charge the battery pack. This functionality was reported to possibly exist in the latest iPhones last year, but this is the first I've heard of it being used.

I'll wait until we hear more about the real-world capacity tests, and also when I'm able to travel a bit more, but it certainly looks like something I'm going to end up buying.

Check out the MagSafe Battery Pack on the Apple Store.

The M1 iPad Pro

20th April 2021

The new iPad Pro has been announced, and I've got a few thoughts on it.

Of course, the most significant part of the announcement was the addition of the M1 chip. It brings the obvious added power and increased efficiency that we've seen in M1 Macs. But I think it also signifies something bigger.

Because Apple could have easily just called the iPad chip the A14X or something similar, that's essentially what it is. But they chose to go with the marketing term, M1. And with the M1 name being associated with Macs and desktop computing, I think it shows what Apple wants the iPad Pro to be.

I could be reading too much into this, but my opinion is that we're going to see a much more Pro-focussed strategy for the iPad Pro. And I'm hoping that kicks off with some real Pro applications announced at WWDC, especially Xcode.

The iPad Pro also now comes with more memory, with the 1TB and 2TB options coming with 16GB, and the rest with 8GB. Both options are an increase from the 2020 models, which came with 6GB. I think this will be a significant stepping stone in getting more powerful apps on the iPad.

Then there's the screen. The new 12.9" iPad Pro has a "Liquid Retina XDR" display, which means 10,000 mini LEDs, sorted into over 2500 local dimming zones (The Pro Display XDR has only 576), 1000 nits of brightness with a peak of 1600 nits, ProMotion, True Tone, HDR, P3 wide colour, etc. All of this sounds very appealing and partially confusing, to be honest.

Most of the other features, while mildly interesting, aren't exactly game-changers for me. Things like the USB -C port gaining Thunderbolt support, the curios Centre Stage feature where your camera can follow you, and of course, 5G.

One other thing did pique my curiosity, and that's the new White Magic Keyboard. While my initial reaction was that it would surely wear out quite quickly and get quite visibly dirty. I feel that the White Magic Keyboard combined with a Space Grey iPad Pro could look pretty good together. Hopefully, I can see a picture of it before they're ready to order.

However, all of this excitement also relies on enhancements to iPadOS.  The hardware has never actually been the issue when it comes to iPad. That has been steadily improving over time, and it's been pretty powerful for a while now. However, it's now time that the software matched the same level, and I mean that from both an OS perspective and Apple's app offerings. Apps like Xcode, Final Cut Pro, and Logic surely have to be coming to the iPad in one form or another? I'm starting to see little reasons why they couldn't.

Ecosia Added to the List of Default Search Engines on Apple Devices

23rd December 2020

Apple has now added a fifth default Search engine option to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. And that new addition is Ecosia.

Ecosia is a search engine that has been produced to plant trees. Not literally, but the profit from the search ads are used to plant trees, and therefore to help the environment.

I heard about Ecosia quite a few years ago, but it didn't seem to work that well for me. I've tried it again recently, and it seems to have improved a lot. So I'm going to be setting it as default on all of my devices to really try it out. For the simple reason that if I can get reasonable search results, then there really isn't a negative, only a positive effect of trees being planted.

To be honest, although Apple added DuckDuckGo to the list of default search engines, I didn't really expect them to add any more. DuckDuckGo just seemed like a privacy-focussed alternative to Google.

I wonder how many people will switch to Ecosia, and if Apple will add even more options in the future? Maybe they will make their own?

Mac Mini Teardown Provides Real-World Look at M1 Chip on Smaller Logic Board →

18th November 2020

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

A teardown of the new Mac mini has surfaced on the forum eGPU.io (via Reddit), providing us with a real-world look at Apple's new M1 chip, which is soldered onto a much smaller logic board than the one found in the 2018 model of the computer.

There sure looks like there's a lot of empty space in there, which bodes well for the future. You can take it as more room for future even more powerful models, or that this power could be put into an even smaller chassis. Either way it's positive.

HomePod Mini First Impressions

18th November 2020

My HomePod arrived this morning, so I thought I'd give my first impressions of it. I've had an original HomePod for quite some time, and I love it, but I did always think I'd like a smaller one in my office. That's why I ordered a Mini as soon as it was available.

Turns out, it was a pretty good decision too. Because for £99, I think the HomePod Mini is much more value for money than the £279 HomePod. I'm not saying the HomePod isn't worth that amount of money, but instead, I think the Mini is so cheap for what it is.

Obviously, the main part of the HomePod is what it sounds like. The original HomePod has an incredible set of speakers and can be pretty loud. With that in mind, I was expecting a speaker the size of the Mini would sound drastically different. I mean, still Apple quality, but noticeably worse than the bigger variant. However, they're a lot closer than I imagined.

The HomePod has an expected much higher level of bass, but the Mini still has a decent amount. I've complained in the past that the HomePod has too much bass, so I wasn't going to complain if there was a little less. It can also be pretty loud. I have it around 50% right now and it's certainly enough. I had them working together at one point, and it was amazing, so I'll probably end up getting another Mini at some point.

I tried sending music between the Mini and my iPhone 12 a few times, and it's definitely faster than before. But I have to be honest and say that it wasn't as fast as I've seen in reviews, so maybe I need to find the sweet spot?

One side-note I have about the Mini is that the cable it comes with is what all future Apple cables should be made out of. It's a braided cable, similar to the bigger HomePod, but the thickness of a typical cable.

While the HomePod will always have the size advantage over the Mini, the difference in sound quality doesn't seem to match the difference in size. The Mini is a great speaker. I think that this is the product that will Apple to compete with other devices from Amazon and Google. I don't think that they will ever match the price points or ubiquity of either two, but I can imagine a lot more people are going to be thinking about a HomePod now.

Apple Reduces App Store Commissions to 15% for Small Businesses Starting Next Year →

18th November 2020

John Voorhees, writing at MacStories:

Today, Apple announced a reduction in App Store commissions that will substantially benefit a large part of the developer community. Starting January 1, 2021, developers who earn up to $1 million per year from their apps will have the commission paid to Apple cut in half, reducing it from 30% to 15%. Apple CEO Tim Cook said of the new App Store Small Business Program in an Apple press release:

Small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world. We’re launching this program to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love.

Cook continued:

The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea. Our new program carries that progress forward — helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich people’s lives.

Such a great decision, and one that a lot of people have been wanting for quite some time. The $1m a year limit is certainly going to disappoint some people, since it will cut out a lot of developers/companies. But I don't think Apple are wrong to at least focus on the small businesses first. I'm sure a lot smarter people will argue the case for or against the cap, but right now I'm just looking forward to applying for this myself.

Apple Responds to Gatekeeper Issue With Upcoming Fixes →

16th November 2020

Romain Dillet, writing for TechCrunch:

Apple  has updated a documentation page detailing the company’s next steps to prevent last week’s Gatekeeper bug from happening again, as Rene Ritchie spotted. The company plans to implement the fixes over the next year.

Apple had a difficult launch day last week. The company released macOS Big Sur, a major update for macOS. Apple then suffered from server-side issues.

Third-party apps failed to launch as your Mac couldn't check the developer certificate of the app. That feature, called Gatekeeper, makes sure that you didn't download a malware app that disguises itself as a legit app. If the certificate doesn’t match, macOS prevents the app launch.

A pretty embarrassing bug for such a big day.