Chris Hannah

Apple


iPhone 14 Sales

I've seen quite a few articles recently that claim that due to worrying sales of the iPhone 14 models, the price of next year's models will likely be lower. While that may seem rather simple to understand, and probably not even require a "leak" to back it up, I'd like to offer two (also obvious) reasons why the 14 may be selling a little less than expected:

  1. The price was increased at a time when a lot of people have less money.
  2. It's pretty much the same phone as the 13.

I'd argue that even if the 15 models go back to the "normal" (still hugely expensive) prices, it still won't be worth the upgrade if the phones are not substantially better than their predecessors.

I still own a 13 Pro, and I honestly can't think of any reason why I'd want to upgrade to a "better" iPhone. At least going by the improvements that were added in last-year models.

Now, if the next iPhone models are affected by the various E.U. rules that mean it needs to be USB C, have an easily (not sure what that even means) replaceable battery, and a few other improvements like that, then I'd probably be a bit more optimistic. But if it's the usual list of changes like a brighter screen, longer battery, faster chip, and some new cinema-grade camera certification, then I think I'll likely skip another generation. Or perhaps, even switch to a more interesting phone like the Google Pixel.

Foundation Is Becoming Fully Swift and Open Source

"The Future of Foundation", Swift.org:

Today, we are announcing a new open source Foundation project, written in Swift, for Swift.

I saw this being talked about earlier on Twitter by people that understand this sort of stuff much more than me. But my first reactions were:

  1. I didn't know Foundation wasn't already in Swift.
  2. I wonder if I can become a contributer.

The post has the project launching on GitHub in 2023, which isn't that helpful. Still, it would be pretty cool to say I contributed to Foundation.

Twitter Blue Will Cost More on an iPhone

There are quite a few publications sharing information regarding the pricing of Twitter's Blue subscription, that it will be more expensive from an an iPhone. This is to cover the revenue cut that Apple take from all purchases on the App Store and their in-app payment system.

This isn't exactly a solution that everyone can suddenly adopt. However, I think for large companies such as Twitter, it's a clever decision. That's as long as there is an alternative method to start a subscription from another device at a lesser price.

It's one thing to offset the commission that Apple take, but I would imagine it also makes the cut that Apple take off all payments, a bit more visible.

Let's say Netflix added an option to pay for the service via Apple's in-app payment system, and also made the price higher to offset the commission. I'm sure a lot of people would suddenly be aware. And I'm sure, if the reasoning was made clear by Netflix, a lot of people would be aiming their complaints in Apple's direction.

I'm not sure how this will play out. Especially as to some, Twitter isn't even a place to be for free, let alone pay for it. But, if they can get more public attention on the cut that Apple takes from in-app payments, it would be interesting to see if the blame is directed towards Apple, or Twitter for not just accepting that cut, and keeping the end user pricing the same on all platforms.

Apple Wants Yet Another 30%

Mitchell Clark for The Verge:

Coinbase has accused Apple of forcing it to remove NFT transfers from its Wallet app on iOS. On Thursday, it tweeted that Apple “blocked our last app release until we disabled the feature” because the iPhone maker wanted the blockchain fees associated with an NFT transfer to go through its in-app purchase system, giving it a 30 percent cut.

Lol, what?

Coinbase via Twitter:

Apple’s claim is that the gas fees required to send NFTs need to be paid through their In-App Purchase system, so that they can collect 30% of the gas fee.

Apple did update their App Store guidelines in October to mention rules around NFTs. App Store Review Guidelines (3.1.1):

Apps may use in-app purchase to sell and sell services related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as minting, listing, and transferring. Apps may allow users to view their own NFTs, provided that NFT ownership does not unlock features or functionality within the app. Apps may allow users to browse NFT collections owned by others, provided that the apps may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.

I guess it's a rule now. So you could argue that Coinbase just have to get on with it. But this all does seem like yet another greedy move from Apple.

My next Mac might be the last

Yet another great piece by Riccardo Mori. A fascinating read, and one that has somewhat echoed feelings I have in regard to what Apple are doing with their software.

Thoughts on the Apple Event

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

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

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

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

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.