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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 8 Plus camera review

Austin Mann:

While the iPhone 8 Plus looks essentially the same as the phone we’ve had since the 6 Plus, there are some new features in the 8 Plus which really impact creative pros across the board — most notably Portrait Lighting, along with a few other hidden gems.

As per usual for Austin, he does an excellent job highlighting the capabilities of the latest iPhone’s camera system. The results are gorgeous.

One thing I take away after pouring over his entire review; we’re at a point now where every single adjustment and improvement that Apple makes to this camera system is seemingly subtle but has dramatic results. 

For example, the new file formats are invisible to the user yet save 50% space on both device and in the cloud. As someone who paid Apple for 1TB of iCloud storage (which they recently upped to 2TB for free) and who stores nearly 100,000 photos and videos … this means I will be able to store four times the amount I was able to before this update. This is a marvel at nearly every level of technology – hardware, software, and file system.

Other examples are HDR in Portrait mode, the new Lighting effects (which is one of the most practical uses of ARKit that I’ve seen yet), the Lock Camera setting, the new “smarter sensor”, etc. When you see Austin’s photos the improvements are absolutely stunning. You can tell he is even surprised by the results.

I’ve long been impressed at the camera system in the iPhone. It is my primary reason to upgrade from one iPhone to another each time I do. But we’re now in a territory where Apple will soon be selling not just the most popular camera in the world, but the best camera in the world.

/via Matthew Panzarino on Twitter.

iPhone X’s new margins

Brian Voong on his excellent YouTube channel Let’s Build That App:

With the introduction of iPhone 10, we as developers are now faced with another option for our apps to be displayed in. Fortunately, Apple has provided us with the necessary APIs to get around the unsafe regions of this phone. We do this by using the new safeAreaLayoutGuide anchors in our code. Enjoy.

Great overview of the very easy to implement adjustments.

Side note: If you’re jumping into iOS development I highly recommend subscribing to this channel and going back through his videos. It is a trove.

Serenity Caldwell on Apple Watch Series 3 “LTE issues”

Serenity Caldwell:

In any case, no, this isn’t a problem with the watch’s Cellular service. It’s an existing issue that’s just suddenly become extremely relevant.

Glad to see that it is very likely going to be solved in short order. My bet is that there are a few people at Apple that are going to pull a few all-nighters to get an update to us by next week. We’ll see if I’m right.

That being said, my iPhones have all had a similar problem. If Wifi signal is weak, or is fully connected but there is no connection to the Internet through that network, then it does a terrible job switching to LTE. Perhaps this is more a bug in how Apple handles this on all of their devices. Maybe now it will get some attention.

My tips for new iOS 11 upgraders

I’ve been using the iOS 11 public betas on my iPhone and iPad for several releases and I think it is one of the most important updates to iOS. It brings lifesaving features to the iPhone and powerful features to the iPad.

Tomorrow iOs 11 is being released to the public, I thought I’d jot down a few things that I believe people should do on the day they upgrade, so that they don’t just move on with their busy lives and forget.

  • Turn on automatic Driving Mode detection. This setting could save your life and those of others. You have no excuse good enough to justify being able to text while you drive. iOS 11 does a good job of detecting when you are driving and turns off all notifications. Almost immediately when you exit your vehicle at your destination your messages are waiting for you. I love this setting. Settings > Do Not Disturb > Do Not Disturb While Driving.
  • Set up Driving Mode auto-replies. Optionally, you can set iOS 11 to automatically reply to certain people with messages that you’re driving. Or, you can keep this feature off and people will simply believe you have a life and cannot respond to every text message within 15 seconds of receiving one. Settings > Do Not Disturb > Auto-Reply To.
  • Customize Control Center. The control center (the screen you get when you flick up from the button of the screen, or from the top-right on the iPhone X) is very different than iOS 10. You can now add or remove buttons from it, and even customize their position on the screen. I’ve chosen to have Camera, Notes, and Voice Memos easily accessible in the bottom-right of the Control Center. I love it. Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.
  • Identify faces in group photos. For those of you without a Mac, you’ve never had facial detection and naming capabilities for your photos. Now you can put a name to a face in iOS 11 and when your device is locked and plugged in it will rummage through your photos for you and find the vast majority of the other photos with that person in them. I’ve found that using large group photos is the quickest way to finding the most people. So, start off finding a few dozen group photos, naming everyone in them, and then let iOS 11 go to work at night. It is surprisingly good and getting better with every release. Photos > Find a Group Photo > Swipe Up > Click on person under People > Tap “Add Name” (repeat for all people in the photo).
  • On iPad: Customize your Dock. You can have up to 15 apps in your Dock on iPad. You can also add more by adding folders of apps. There is also an area on the right side of the dock that can show recent apps. Turn on Recent Apps in Settings > General. Otherwise, drag your favorite apps into the Dock.
  • On iPad: Practice multi-tasking, split-screen, and drag-and-drop gestures. iOS 10 has had split-screen features for iPad since it was released and I still see many iPad users that do not take advantage of them. iOS 11 makes these features even more powerful. Unless you make these part of your muscle memory by practicing them, you might be under-utilizing the power of your device. Watch this video on YouTube to see how best to open multiple apps, drag-and-drop files, and more.
  • Try out Notes’ new features. Notes has some new features that you will definitely find useful but you need to know they are there. Try some of the following:
    • If you have an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, try tapping your Pencil on the lock screen. This results in a new note. Pretty slick.
    • Try the document scanner. iOS 11’s ARKit features allow for a pretty practical use of this technology in scanning a document and being able to sign it with ease. It is remarkably good. Put a document on a table, open Notes, in a new Note hit the + symbol, select Scan Documents. Prepare to be wowed. I wish this feature were part of the camera somehow or its own mode from Control Center. Again, here is a good video showing how this works.

By doing the above you may just save a life. But, also you’ll get far more use out of the device you already own and take full advantage of this monumental release of iOS.

If you have any others, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Repost: Mike Rundle on Twitter

👉 Mike Rundle:

The new top-end iPhone will have a notch. New top-end Android phones (V30, S8) do not. Hard for Apple to spin that.

Wishes for Apple’s Fall Media Event

On Tuesday Apple is holding its Fall Media Event. Thanks to a rogue Apple employee, who I can only imagine is packing their personal affects as I type this, the rumor mill has been working overtime and it appears as though we “know” just about every detail one could imagine prior to this event short of Eddy Cue’s untucked shirt color.

Based on those findings it appears that most of the things I am wishing for won’t come to fruition. Fortunately, most of my wishes have to do with how Apple will market their products and less to do with the hardware itself.

However, rumors are just rumors and, no matter how well sourced things may be, all sorts of details can be inaccurate, vague or completely wrong.

So here are my wishes for Tuesday’s event.

  • The new iPhones should be called the iPhone, iPhone Plus, and iPhone Pro. Based on the iOS 11 GM leaks it appears as though I won’t get this wish – but I feel like the number-based naming is long-in-the-tooth and doesn’t fit other products that Apple sells like the iPad, MacBook, or iMac. “IPHONE X” is a terrible name.
  • The new Apple Watch with LTE should be slightly thinner. I’ve long thought the Apple Watch is slightly too thick. Though it appears the shape and size are going to be exactly the same as the previous editions of the Apple Watch.
  • Touch ID should be included in the Power Button on the side. I’m all for getting rid of the Home Button but Touch ID is far too nice to see it gone forever.
  • A new Apple TV with better remote, 4K support, and Amazon Prime Video app.
  • I’ve already described the iPhone SE I’d like to see released though this likely won’t happen until springtime.
  • And lastly, I’d like a presentation about Apple Park. It doesn’t seem like they will have enough time for much more than a short tribute to Steve Jobs in this new theater named after him – but it would be nice to have an official presentation about the new campus.

As an aside: I wonder if anyone has thought of the possibility that the iOS 11 GM leak was done on purpose by Apple for some reason? That they are making sure to set expectation regarding the Home Button and Touch ID being gone?

I’m excited for Tuesday.

Oh, and I already have a post I plan to publish on the day iOS 11 is released. So watch for that.

Mobile blogging goals (audio)

Recorded September 10, 2017

Starting with this audio bit I’m making a few changes.

I’m ditching the episode numbers. My audio bits are not a podcast, they aren’t really episodes, and keeping track of the numbers is just more work. I will, however, denote in the title that this is an audio post.

I’m also switching to the audio format that comes directly out of Voice Memos on the iPhone rather than doing the work of converting the file to MP3. If you have any issues listening to this audio file please let me know.

Enjoy the listen!

Links

Download Audio File

I want a dual-camera, edge-to-edge screen, waterproof iPhone SE

I miss my iPhone SE. Everything I ever wrote about it here on my blog was awash with my overwhelming love of the device. I still believe it is the best phone Apple has made to date.

The only reason I use an iPhone 7 Plus is the camera. I said I wouldn’t switch from the iPhone SE but I did once I saw the dual-camera. It was almost as if I bought a new favorite camera and was forced to turn in my favorite phone to have it.

I was reminded of this topic by Manton Reece. He recently wrote:

The iPhone SE was an incredible value when it first shipped — a perfect balance of size, great camera, and nearly-flawless design. I still love mine. It’s arguably the best overall phone Apple has ever made.

The iPhone SE likely won’t see an update until next spring. At that point, the camera that was competitive at launch will be 2 generations behind. This isn’t a surprise; we knew this was coming. It’s just the more I see the photos from Traci’s iPhone 7 Plus camera, the more I’m pulled back to the cutting edge. The dual-camera approach is a major step forward.

Over 18 month’s ago I wrote:

I only have one feature request for the iPhone SE. Make it waterproof.

Now I have a few more requests. Make an iPhone SE at the exact same size with an edge-to-edge display, the dual-camera system, and make it completely waterproof. Oh, and you can throw in USB-C too. That would be the perfect iPhone.

WWDC 2017 recap

I wanted to take a few moments to jot down a comparison between my wish list for this year’s WWDC and what was announced. Also, towards the end, some quick thoughts on the surprises that were announced.

Here are my wishes, in order from the previous post, and whether or not we got them.

  • Shared iCloud Photo Libraries. Nope. It doesn’t appear so. I think if they had finished this they would have announced it.
  • iCloud data Family sharing. Yes! And, they gave us 2TB for the price of 1TB. So, a very good update here.
  • An all-new Mac App Store. Kinda? While they didn’t show this off, Phil Schiller did hint at it during John Gruber’s live interview with him and Hair Force One.
  • App Store demos. Nope. While the new iOS App Store looks very nice (and it getting great reviews all over the web) it didn’t include this.
  • App slimming. Not sure. I’ll wait for the public betas of iOS and macOS to determine if they’ve done any work in this area.
  • More Camera app filters. Yes! While the camera app may not have more filters built-in, the Photos app has tons of updates in this area. I’ll take it.
  • Apple Prime. Nope.
  • Rename iCloud Photo Library? Nope. But, not a big deal.
  • Apple Watch Series 3. Nope. Not yet. And the watchOS updates that were featured were lackluster. But, I think they were holding back for the event they’ll have in the fall.
  • Apple Photos improvements. Yes. Tons. I’ll wait until I get my hands on it to do a direct comparison with my wishes.
  • More iOS Extensions. Nope. I didn’t see much in this area mentioned, but I think they made up for it with the drag/drop features.
  • Siri. Nope. Read Manton’s post on this. He wrote what I was thinking.
  • Apple Maps accuracy updates. Nope. Not a single mention about Apple Maps that I saw. So, again, I’ll have to wait and see with the betas.

My last minute wish that I threw in was for driving mode. And that is a huge yes!

If we’re keeping score that’s like 8 nopes, 1 kinda, and 4 yeses. Which doesn’t seem like a good score but somehow I was very impressed with WWDC overall. I think we’re in for a great year of software updates coming from Apple.

Now, onto some of the surprises.

  • HomePod. While not a total surprise HomePod looks interesting. As a piece of hardware I really like it. As a device that allows you to access Siri I’m less excited because of how poor Siri is still. For example: Ask Siri “how far is New York City” compared to “Driving directions to New York City”. How can’t Siri answer the first question if it can answer the second? I refuse to believe that Apple isn’t staying up late nights to bolster Siri’s offering so hopefully we’ll see a massive improvement in Siri within calendar 2017 or 2018.
  • iMac Pro. What an incredible computer! My first Mac was an iMac and I bought Eliza an iMac somewhat recently. I really love all-in-one computers I just prefer to have a notebook myself due to working remotely, at work, in coffee shops, at a client’s, etc. If I were to buy a desktop computer for myself the iMac Pro would be it.
  • Macbook updates. I got my new Macbook Pro with Touchbar somewhat recently. But, these updates aren’t enough to make me regret my upgrade. They look solid though.
  • ARKit. As I’ve already noted, this will be huge.
  • New iPads Pro. The updates to the iPad (both software and hardware) are very, very good. Makes me wish I needed to upgrade.
  • iPad iOS features. Though it appears some of these could come to iPhone (or, perhaps the 10-year anniversary iPhone) – these features are amazing like drag and drop and the dock, etc. Pretty cool.

There are of course many things I haven’t mentioned but ll-in-all a solid week of Apple updates.

One last thing; recently Tim Cook has been quoted as saying that Apple is focused on autonomous driving (which we knew) but that they are focused on it as a category rather than a feature. Apple finds autonomy as an interesting area moreso than simply self-driving. I’m very interested to see how this idea manifests itself in future products.

The iPhone turns 9

Nine years ago today Eliza, John Gruber, Rob Sandie, Matt Regula and I were standing in line for the original iPhone. Here are a few photos:

Colin Rob Eliza in line for iPhone

John Gruber in line for iPhone

John, before having a computer in his pocket.

John Gruber taking a photo of the iPhone line

Rob Sandie powering up

Me with my original iPhone

It was quite a day. Looking back on it now, that day changed everything we do now.

E6: Verizon, iPhone SE, Yeti

The iPhone SE is for me and Yeti is changing my life.

 

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The Apple Watch is the original iPhone

I really liked this comparison by Michael D. Shear for the New York Times and I think it is spot on.

My wife has an Apple Watch. I’d call her a “light user” of the Watch. She wears it every day but mainly uses it for glancing at text messages. There are a myriad of other uses but, just like the original iPhone, they are a bit too slow to be fully useful yet. You can use them but you don’t very often because they are too slow.

I remember the “I can’t believe I can do this even though it is slow” feeling of the latter half of 2007 with the original iPhone. When I test my wife’s Watch that is exactly how it feels. I’m amazed that I can check Dark Sky from my wrist but I’d never choose to use it on my Watch over my phone. It is way too slow. Even while kayaking I think I’d still pull out my phone. It is that slow.

Shear’s advice is the same as my own and the same advice I’ve been giving myself when I ask whether or not I should buy myself an Apple Watch:

I’m tempted to say “no” for most people. Most of what it does, your phone already does better. And the Apple Watch, even with recent sales, is pricier than competing smartwatches that do similar things. By that logic, you should wait until next year, when Apple’s relentless drive to innovate will have improved the watch’s hardware and software. Or wait until 2019, when the fifth generation of the device has unimagined new features.

I will buy an Apple Watch when they are at least 5x faster than they are now (probably two iterations) and a bit slimmer.