Apple


Thoughts on the Apple Event

12th September 2022

I was planning on writing in detail my thoughts on the Apple event, and the products that were announced. However, after I started writing an outline, I noticed a trend. These products aren’t for me, I’m not in the market for them, and they don’t provide enough additional value for me to replace what I currently have.

I didn’t want to create a big negative post about the event, simply because it didn’t cause me to spend my money, but I'll offer a few short opinions on what was announced.

Watch

I’d say this was the biggest part of the event (I don’t know the actual numbers, but it felt that way), and I guess it appears that the Watch has started to mature, and updates to the main watch are iterative at this point. However, the Ultra seems interesting, specifically for more outdoors people that maybe hike or scuba dive. This seems like a niche product to me, so that will be an interesting thing to watch.

AirPods

I can’t say much about the AirPods, except that I’d probably start to at least show an interest if there was a non-in-ear option.

iPhone 14

Similar to the Watch, this is another iterative update. However, I do like a few of the additions.

Firstly, I have to mention the Dynamic Island, it’s a clear improvement, and it’s great to see how the OS handles and actually builds upon the cutout. However, I can’t get over that name.

As for the always-on display, I definitely think there’s some value in that, although I’d only ever know after using it for a while. I have it on my Pixel 6, and it’s been mildly useful to have the time and a few notification icons available, but it looks like the iOS implementation takes it just that bit further.

Final Thoughts

In general, this wasn’t an event for me. Apple’s products seem to all be maturing, and there hasn’t been anything spectacular for a while in my opinion.

But I can’t say that every event Apple do has to be spectacular. The world is built on small, iterative updates. The real problem may be the constant desire for bigger and better.

And to be honest, I don’t even know what I’m looking for in regard to innovation at the moment. Brighter colours? Maybe a different form-factor? I guess I just want something different from the same slab of glass Apple have been selling for quite a few years. Maybe that’s why Android is starting to pique my interest.

The Improvements That I Want to See in iOS 16

14th May 2022

I started thinking about what my hopes were for iOS 16, and the ways I think iOS could be improved. Mostly with the intention to end up with one of the stereotypical wish list posts that most bloggers write about this time of year. Nevertheless, I could only think of six things. All of them inspired by my recent use of the Google Pixel 6 and Android 12.

That isn’t to say that these are the only things that will excite me about iOS 16, they’re just the only ways I can see iOS 16 improving. I’m sure there are various ways in which Apple could innovate, and bring something new to the OS. However, the OS has, without doubt, matured, and every year there’s a lot less low-hanging-fruit. Which is probably why innovation seems to have slowed (for both iOS and Android), and changes seem to be either iterative or being adaptations of existing capabilities of another OS.

With that in mind, here are the six things that are inspired by Android 12, that I think Apple should bring to iOS 16:

Some form of universal messaging support. Whether it is iMessage for Android (which I think is unlikely), or the adoption of RCS as a fallback instead of SMS. It’s clear that communication between iOS and Android devices shouldn’t be via SMS.

Freeform Home Screen layouts. There are many things that made me give the Pixel 6 a try, but a main one was the same old Home Screen. There’s been the addition of widgets, but everything still needs to follow the same grid structure. And for some reason, you can’t just put an icon where you want. Which seems stupid to me, since the size of phones nowadays are pretty large.

Multiple audio channels. This isn’t something that I’m desperate for, but it’s certainly irritating for me when you go to a website and a video/ad starts playing automatically and your song stops. Imagine going to a website on your Mac and an autoplaying video, stopping the song you’re listening to. Also, you should be able to alter the volume of specific apps/channels.

New widget sizes. Widgets are cool, but I don’t think the information density warrants them such a big place on the Home Screen. Why does the weather forecast need to take up the space of 4 app icons? A 2×1 and 1×1 size option would be very much appreciated by me. And I’ve also greatly appreciate resizable widgets, rather than fixed sizes that you have to replace manually.

Better notification grouping. For me, Android has always had better notification support than iOS. But something I find very useful when I use my Pixel is the grouping of notifications. As in, a certain app can have have multiple categories of notifications, which the user can control individually. Which means you can turn off some of the more marketing style notifications, and keep the important ones.

Auto-unlock in safe locations. This is a feature of Android that I love. The Pixel 6 that I use has a fingerprint sensor in the screen, and while it’s pretty fast, it’s not instant. However, there’s a “Smart Unlock” feature, that allows you to add trusted places, where your phone will always stay unlocked. I know Apple like to tie a lot of this auto-unlock stuff to the Apple Watch, but I don’t wear one of those. I’d like just like to have my phone unlocked whenever I’m at home.

Those are the improvements that I can think of, but I’m sure there are a ton of others. So fingers-crossed they announce something exciting at WWDC!

Apple Announces Self Service Repair

17th November 2021

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorised Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.

The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.

My immediate reaction on Twitter to this was that I thought that this is a good idea, and benefits both Apple and consumers. Because this will surely be good for Apple's reputation, and they'll now gain more control of the iPhone parts market. And that means for consumers, they will have access to official parts that they can trust, and also be able to perform repairs themselves.

I'm not too sure Apple are doing this purely for the benefit of consumers though. I'm starting to wonder if they're introducing this program so that they have a counterargument to the right to repair people.

Matt Birchler also shared his opinions on the new program:

I'm super curious to see how this is received by people on both sides of the right to repair argument. Will people who support right to repair see this as a win or an empty gesture distracting from their real concerns? Will people who have argued against right to repair because it would mean bulky products be annoyed because this shows that's not really the case?

Even though I'm sure that Apple will be very restrictive to what parts they sell, and what they "allow" you to repair. I would find it incredibly amusing if Apple find a way to support reasonably priced repairs for batteries, screens, cases, etc. Because right now, the only manufacturers I see that are even thinking about this kind of stuff are making big phones that look ugly. And the excuse that "it's repairable" won't hold up as much.

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.