Posted on September 10th, 2019
AND LO DID TIM COOK DESCEND FROM ON HIGH TO DELIVER A NEW iPHONE TO THE APPLE FAITHFUL FROM THE SANCTITY OF THE APPLE SPACESHIP HEADQUARTERS!
He dropped some other Apple stuff too, but the only thing I really cared about was the iPhone. And the only reason I cared about a new iPhone was the possibility of an improved camera inside of it.
And here's all the crap Apple talked about, along with my notes...
I love video games. I've loved video games since video games were invented. Alas, I never have time to actually play them, which means my Nintendo Switch sits mostly unused and any game I buy for my iPhone is never finished. So when Apple announced "Apple Arcade" I was ready to take a big 'ol pass... but then you find out it's just $4.99 a month (a third less than I was expecting) and a part of me is like Hmmmmmm?!? $5 is (on average) what I pay for a single game. Now I can get hundreds of games for that same price? That's a pretty sweet deal. And every one of the games are exclusive to Apple. So who knows? Maybe a couple times a year I'll pay my $5 and play when I can for a month just to see what's up. Sure beats paying $5 for one game that will never be completed. There's a one-month free trial to check it out on September 19th...
I already pay far more for television every month than I am comfortable with (or can afford). But looking at the cool shows that Apple has lined up for their streaming service is certainly compelling. And, again, I'm more than a little blown away that Apple is only going to charge $4.99 a month given the money and quality of shows they are producing. This will be yet another case of paying for a month of service a couple times a year so I can binge all their content. And then Apple drops the other shoe... any purchase of a new iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV comes with a FREE year of Apple TV+, which is pretty mind-blowing. Apple developed a streaming service not as a monthly revenue model... BUT TO SELL MORE OF THEIR PRODUCTS! No idea if people like me who are a part of the iPhone Upgrade Program will get a free year every time they trade in their old phone for a new phone, but that would be pretty sweet...
I have a new-ish model of iPad which I purchased to paint with. And I love it for painting. The Apple Pencil is fast, intuitive, and there's all kinds of apps available to unleash your creativity. But what I need an iPad for is drawing, not painting. I want to be able to draw on the thing, and I have a really hard time with that. I just can't seem to get the precision needed for drawing down, and every time I try I end up reaching for a pencil and paper. What I need to do is just sit down for a week and force myself to learn. But I can never find the time so my iPad sits in a drawer. For that reason, iPad news is kind uninteresting to me... but I do tune in, because nothing would make me happier than to use an iPad for travel instead of lugging my laptop everywhere. And if things keep advancing like they have been, we are closer to that becoming a reality than ever before. Would I buy a new 7th Generation iPad if I could afford one in the first place? Probably not. But I still want one, and that's how Apple gets you. The latest model is sublimely fast, capable, and beautiful to look at and draw on. What's not to want?
The only way that I would ever buy one of these would be if they made it considerably thinner. Because while I would absolutely love to own one... I would likely never wear it. But, again, I want one anyway because Apple makes such a compelling case as to why I can't live without one. The health features alone are pretty spectacular. But now the display is ALWAYS ON which addresses my other major pet peeve about Apple Watch. The fact that they innovated a way to make this happen without sacrificing battery life is insanely great. All the other new stuff in Series 5... like a compass... is cute, but not compelling enough for me to shell out $500.
iPhone 11. This is the new entry model iPhone, which I'll just skip right over, since it doesn't have the cameras I am looking for. Faster, better Face ID, better cameras, blah blah blah... it's dope, we get it. The base model starts at $699.
iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Here we go...
Durability. They claim that the new iPhone Pro models are constructed with the toughest glass ever created for a mobile phone. Will this preclude giving up a protective case? That would be nice, but I'll have to wait until somebody tests that. Since I am on the iPhone Upgrade Program and have to return my iPhone in pristine condition if I don't want to pay a fine to get a new one, I'll probably end up with a case unless the glass is so tough that it's impossible to scratch. Not likely.
Display. Apparently "Super Retina" displays just aren't good enough now. Apple has leapt forward with Super Retina XDR. It's got better contrast, better color gamut, better brightness... all while being 15% more energy efficient.
A13 Bionic Chip. Apple's line of chips has been fine-tuned specifically for doing exactly what Apple wants their phones to do and nothing more or less. There's no wasted energy going anywhere because Apple designs them that way. This makes them crazy-powerful all while drawing less power from the battery. Nowhere is this more evident than with Apple's dedication to "machine learning" via their "Neural Engine." This is a special set of routines that can analyze massive amounts of data and provide tools to use that data in intelligent ways. Feed it a bunch of images of an object to define an object, for example, and you can ask it to look for the object in new images with very little coding. That's pretty basic scenario, and creative programmers are able to do much, much more. This is a case of Apple providing killer tools so developers can come up with killer apps.
Battery. I don't use my phone a lot, so the battery has barely drained when I charge it each night. Even when I travel and am using my phone constantly, it still lasts me all day. I rarely ever run out of battery (which used to happen all the time with earlier iPhone models). Even so... the new Pro has up to 4 hours more battery life... the new Pro Max has up to 5 hours more battery life. And they are including a more powerful charger, so you can charge your phone quicker as well (assuming you still want to use a cord... ugh!). It was expected that Apple would introduce "reverse wireless charging" so you can use your iPhone battery to charge another phone... or your Apple Watch... or your AirPods... or whatever. This was introduced in the previous version of the Samsung Galaxy phones, but didn't happen this time for the iPhone. Maybe next year.
Haptic Touch. As rumored, Apple has eliminated 3D Touch from its displays, which allowed a "deep touch" to perform different functions from a "touch." This is a real shame, because 3D Touch is a frickin' amazing feature (no wonder it wasn't even mentioned at the event!). So now instead of a display that's pressure-sensitive, we instead get "Haptic Touch" which relies on the length of a touch instead of the hardness of a touch to deliver different functions. This is most decidedly not the same thing, even though Apple is essentially selling it that way. I'm sure it will just be a learning adjustment. But it's weird that Apple would be removing features like this. I guess it makes for cheaper displays... but how is that a consolation in a phone that starts at $1000?!?
Lightning Again. The dream was that Apple finally move to USB C for the cable hookup. They didn't. It's still a Lightning connector, which means you have to continue to pack stupid Lightning cables with you everywhere. I rarely use a cable at home thanks to wireless charging, but I use it all the time when I travel, which is why this sucks.
Sound. Dolby Atmos on a phone is an absurd claim... probably more "Dolby-Atmos-like," but I don't doubt that the spatial sound abilities are much improved.
Camera. I use my iPhone as a camera more than anything else. By a ridiculous margin. To me, it's not a phone at all... it's a camera which happens to be able to use the internet and make phone calls. When I travel now-a-days, I rarely take my actual camera with me. My iPhone is enough. And with each new version that Apple unleashes, my "professional camera" is less necessary. I haven't needed to buy a new mobile phone in years. But I do so anyway because I want a better camera.
Night Mode. Apple has always had pretty good low light capabilities. But with the advent of mobile phones like the Google Pixel with its amazing "night sight," Apple's efforts are downright pitiful. But now they've addressed this shortcoming in a big way to add far better low light photography to the iPhone. This is a pretty big deal...
Lens Trio. Saying that the iPhone Pro has "three lenses" is actually wrong. It has three cameras, each with a different lens. A 12MP 26mm f/1.8 Wide Camera, a 12MP 52mm f/2.0 Telephoto Camera, and a 12MP 13mm f/2.4 Ultra-Wide Camera...
Note that we haven't gotten an increase from 12MP in a while now. This is probably smart given the massive storage space needed, but they really need to get to at least 16MP real soon for those who want it... maybe even giving just one of the lenses 24MP or something. Anyway... it's the ultra-wide that's important here...
Most any time I've taken scenic photos I end up having to take panoramas, which are great but problematic. Far better if I can take a wide photo in one shot, which is going to be much more likely now.
Deep Fusion. And here's where things get interesting! Deep Fusion is a technology which uses the iPhone's machine learning to to build fantastic detail out of multiple shots... automatically. Every time you initiate the shutter, iPhone takes nine photos (four of them happen before you even touch the shutter). It then analyzes every pixel of all the images and builds a finished image which combines the best pixels from each... in less than a second. The demo image is phenomenal, and has me totally sold...
Video. All three cameras can shoot in 4K. New editing tools allow for adjusting attributes like brightness. That's impressive. But it's Mickey Mouse stuff when you consider what it can actually do with these cameras. To demonstrate that, Apple had the CTO from FiLMiC show off the next version of their app which takes full advantage of the fact that the iPhone Pro can record from MULTIPLE CAMERAS AT THE SAME TIME!
So you can have coverage at the wide and telephoto levels in the same shot. And you can use the selfie cam as one of those cameras.... Which means you can record both sides of a talking heads conversations in one go...
Insanity. But in the best possible way.
5G. Ain't got it. Which is a bit of a dangerous game to play. As the 5G rollout gains momentum, having a phone with the option of connecting to it seems like something you want to have in a $1000 phone for future-proofing. But Apple, of course, doesn't want to future-proof. They want you to keep buying new phones to get those sweet new features.
Price. No increased retail on the Pro. Still $1000 for the "regular" sized one... which seems absurd, even when considering all it can do. I don't have $1000 to throw around, so I will be upgrading from my current iPhone with the iPhone Upgrade Program I bought into last year...
Artistry. Apple gave some of the new iPhone Pro phones to professional photographers and let them loose. Using the new tech, they created some amazing images...
And that's all she wrote.
My iPhone Upgrade Program renewal date isn't until the 20th, and I'm too cheap for an early buy-out, so I'm fine waiting until then (which, coincidentally, is the actual release date). Of course by that time the waiting list queue for backorders will likely have me getting my new iPhone 11 Pro in October, so I won't get to try out the awesome new camera(s) until then.
Think of all the cat photos I'll be missing out on.
Posted on June 3rd, 2019
I typed some notes during Apple's streaming presentation of the World Wide Developer's Conference keynote this morning. Since I know absolutely everybody is dying to know my thoughts on things*, this post is for you!
• Eco-Unfriendly! And here's Tim Cook to start things off. Right off the bat he's touting how Apple is a sweet ecosystem that marries hardware, software, and services to create an experience unlike any other...
Say what you like about Apple, but it's totally true. The problem is that when one part of their ecosystem sucks, you get a bad experience. This applies to hardware (I fucking hate the MacBook Pro keyboard, and will avoid buying one of their shitty laptops for as long as I can), software (when they aren't abandoning critical in-house software like Aperture, they create fucking garbage like HomeKit), and services (their media streaming is unbelievably shitty and I'm furious that they always blame my internet, when my fiber connection streams flawlessly from everybody else). I used to put up with everything because, hey, at least it was better than Windows, but is that really true anymore?
• Apple Arcade! Now Tim is talking about "Apple Arcade"... a new membership service where you get access to a lot of cool and exclusive games. Out of everything announced, I only give a crap about LEGO Brawls, so this is probably not going to be for me...
• Apple TV PLUS! Ugh. I mean, really? Yet another streaming service? I admit that the clip shown from the alternate-history space-race drama For All Mankind looks interesting, but enough for me to pay up a monthly fee? Doubtful. Disney+ is absolutely on my radar because of all the Marvel Studios and Star Wars shows in development, but it would take a heck of a lot for me to buy into Apple's random non-catalog of shows.
• Apple TV! Apple TV has one of the shittiest interfaces in tech history. It takes forever to find the stuff you want to watch. Even if you know where to get to it, you still have to scroll and scroll and scroll. Apple added Siri to AppleTV so you can just tell it what you want, but I find it to be flakey and not always accurate. Why would I buy something from iTunes when it's available streaming from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or whatever? I thought that "TV" was supposed to prioritize stuff you already have over stuff you have to pay for, but that hasn't been my experience. But I digress. They've apparently redesigned everything to be less shitty. EXCEPT THEY ARE USING CLIP PREVIEWS LIKE NETFLIX WHICH I FUCKING HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE!!! Fuck this. I hope to God they allow you to turn that shit off.
Ooh! And now Apple is saying that you will be able to use controllers from Xbox One and Playstation to control games on AppleTV! Yay! Except... where is support for my Nintendo Switch Pro controller? Oh well. I don't have time to play many games anyway.
Okay... I love the new underwater 4K screen saver! Reminds me of the serene scene aquarium screen saver I had on my Mac ages ago...
• Apple Watch! Ya know? I'd sure like to have an Apple Watch, but I just know I would never wear it because it's so damn thick. Until they fix that, they can throw all the new "watch faces" at me they want... I'm not biting. Except... ZOMG! A CALCULATOR APP! Just like my old calc digital watch had back in the 80's!
The new WatchOS will be able to run apps independently of the companion iPhone app. That seems like a pretty critical feature, but I don't know how they have the memory available for such a thing? This allows you to install apps from the App Store directly on your Apple Watch which, again, seems like a critical feature to have.
I like the idea of how the Apple Watch can help you out by monitoring your health... but I know darn well I would stop using it when I see just how unhealthy my lifestyle is, so that's not a big draw for me. For the ladies there's a menstrual cycle tracker now that will help you to know when your period is coming and when you are most fertile for the baby-making.
• iOS 13! Apparently the next version of iOS will focus a lot on speed. Face ID will unlock 30% faster... apps will install faster... apps will launch faster... that kinda thing. Naturally, it's hard not to be happy about that. And I most certainly hope that it launches the camera faster so I don't miss as many time-critical shots like I do now. A more reliable camera that isn't locking up all the time would also be nice.
I'm torn on the new "Dark Mode"... I stopped using it on my Mac because it was wildly inconsistent between apps, sometimes making it impossible to use apps that weren't patched to accommodate it. Perhaps if they did a better job of it for my iPhone I will have better luck? I dunno. It costs nothing to try. And, may I just say, that Apple using Depeche Mode's Black Celebration for their demo is about the best thing I've seen from this keynote so far?
I've been using Google's keyboard for a long time now because it supported swipe typing. Problem is, my iPhone is forever reverting back to Apple's keyboard even though I've not asked it to. Now that Apple supports swipe typing, maybe it will be a better experience? I sure hope so. All the new predictive input stuff is nice, but I often find that my iPhone gets it wrong far more often than it guesses correctly. Maybe their new "machine learning engine" will improve this? One can only hope.
• Maps! And so... shots fired at Google Maps! But here's the deal. Unless Apple gets into the traffic monitoring game like Google and Google-owned Waze, I'm probably sticking with Waze. Pretty is pretty, but I'll take the better functionality every time...
Meg Frost is up in her cool future-wheelchair to demo Maps. Holy crap is it a beautiful app! I may use it a lot more, but the navigation of Waze will be hard to leave behind...
Apple is doing their OWN version of "street view" and it looks spectacular...
I'll definitely be using Apple Maps for armchair traveling, but for actual driving? The jury is out.
• Security! And here's where Apple takes an even bigger swing at Google... privacy and security. Companies like Google and Facebook track everything you do and monitor all the activity on your phone because they are selling ads. To be effective at selling ads, they need to know who you are and what you do. I don't give much of a crap about this (hey, I'm a blogger, all that stuff is online for anybody to see anyway), but I do like Apple's philosophy of erring on the side of caution. It started with ApplePay, which securely pays for stuff without tying the purchases to a credit card (which is nice), and I absolutely love the convenience of it. And now Apple is moving their privacy mandate into other areas at a system level. I approve.
Location monitoring by your phone could be a very big problem if you don't know it's happening and you're a thief or having an affair or whatever. Apple is putting the kibosh on that by being more proactive about how your location is used and how long an app gets to use it. That's totally swell.
And, as if the shots fired weren't obvious enough, here's Craig Federighi telling the whole world that they are seriously going after Facebook and Google by creating their very own "Sign in with Apple" login service! Sweet!
No personal information whatsoever handed over. I think it's pretty obviously that absolutely everybody will switch to Apple's login service the minute it becomes available on sites. I know I sure as hell will be.
Okay, THIS is huge. Apple is coming up with their own privacy email forwarding service! You can immediately establish a temporary email ID... then use or dispose of it for as long as you want! NICE.
I've used random forwarding addresses for a very long time, but having to set them up is always such a pain. Now that it's an OS-level feature, it will be so much easier. Kudos, Apple!
Interesting. Apple is adding their own security camera streaming service to their heinously shitty HomeKit home automation bullshit. The privacy features are admittedly compelling, even though I just don't care that much. So people can hack my account and watch me talking to my cats... whoop-dee-do. However... On one hand, I would love to get rid of all my Google NestCam shit and their fucking "NestAware" idiocy for something better. So maybe. Except I hate hate hate shitty HomeKit so much that I just don't think it's a viable option. Maybe one day? I just don't know.
• Memoji! While I think the idea of Apple's Animoji and Memoji are cute, they just aren't something I'm interested in using. I tried it a few times just for fun, but the idea of using it day-in and day-out makes zero sense. The novelty wears off far too quickly. Except... NOW THEY'VE ADDED MAKEUP?!? And piercings? AND HATS?!? Ooh! Maybe I will have to use Memoji now that I can add eyeshadow and lipstick!
Memoji stickers are actually pretty cool. I don't use stickers very often, but I might use something like this.
• Photos! I take far, far, far more photos on my iPhone than any camera I have ever owned. It's just too convenient and the quality is just too good (and getting better!). The fact that Apple keeps adding cool editing features just gives me even more reason to keep shooting with iPhone. I've always got it with me anyway.
And now you can apply effects to video as well as... gasp!... ROTATE VIDEO AS WELL!
The new machine-learning photo management tools are pretty great too. I really should go delete all the duplicates and junk photos I've taken. Could probably cut the number of photos I've got stored in half. Probably more.
• AirPods! I like everything about the concept of AirPods... but hate the AirPods themselves. They absolutely 100% do NOT stay in my ears. And given the number of people complaining about losing them, I'm guessing it's a serious problem for everybody. I pretty much only use them when traveling because then it's worth the time to put the silicone tips on them so they actually stay in my ears. My thinking is that this will be the first and last pair of AirPods I buy until Apple starts making them so they fit... and are more sustainable. As it is now, there's nothing you can do except throw them away when the battery fails. Wasteful. Shamefully wasteful for a company that professes to be on the cutting edge of "green sustainability."
Having messages announced through your AirPods would drive me insane and I would most definitely not have that feature turned on. One feature I do like, however, is the AirPod Audio Sharing feature. How cool is that? So long as you both have AirPods, very cool!
• HomePod! Whatever, dude. Drop the price by half and I might consider purchasing one. Until then? My SONOS system is doing just fine.
• CarPlay! I would be thrilled to have a CarPlay enabled stereo in my auto, because the integration features with my iPhone are just too good. But I am just not in my car often enough to justify the cost. Happy that Apple keeps improving the CarPlay experience though, because maybe one day...
• Speech! The new "Neural TTS" (Text To Speech) quality is insane. Once more update and they will probably have something indistinguishable from an actual human! Hell, my iPhone already speaks in a way that's more intelligible and human than our President!
• iPad! I may die of un-shock... iPads will no longer be using a forked version of iOS but instead run a custom iPadOS. Given how Apple keeps pushing iPad to encroach on what desktop computers do (and compete with Microsoft's Surface tablet), it was something that pretty much had to happen. And it just makes sense. iPad is more than just a big iPhone. Better split-view... gestures designed for a larger screen... drag and drop... this is all stuff that, frankly, Apple should have had years ago.
One thing that had to happen to make iPad more of a desktop equivalent is to have far better file handling. It looks like Apple realizes this and is working to add more and more functionality. All the features are nice... but nowhere is this new direction more easily understood than by the fact that you can plug a thumb-drive into your iPad now...
• Pencil! I love my first-generation iPad pencil and would dearly love the features of the second-gen... if only my older iPad supported it. Perhaps eventually I will use my iPad a lot more often for my artistic endeavors, so it'll be worth it to invest the money. But that's just not in the cards right now.
• Mac! "WE LOVE THE MAC!" Tim Cook exclaims! Which is hard to take seriously when they are putting shitty keyboards on their laptops that render them useless... or just make them impossible to type on. As if you couldn't tell from my numerous posts on the topic, I am fucking livid that Apple has essentially flushed their MacBook line down the toilet thanks to their "butterfly keyboards" that nobody wants.
• Cheese! Is it just me... or does Apple's new $6000 MacPro look like a cheese grater? A pretty cheese grater, yes... but a fucking cheese grater...
Would I love to own one? Of course I would. But I just can't justify the absurd cost. Yes, Apple put a lot of work into making the thing worth the price tag, but it's all stuff that's not essential to what I do. Maybe if I start composing music with thousands of instruments or editing 6K video, I'll have a need, but this is just silly. At least it's a vastly more configurable and expandable "Pro" computer than the laughably shitty "trash can" machine they released last time.
• Display! The new Apple Pro Display XDR is an absolute steal at $5,000. I sincerely doubt that there is anything out there that can touch it at any price. But, then again, FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A COMPUTER DISPLAY!
• Catalina! Keeping up with their "Places of California" motif for naming their MacOS releases, we now get Catalina. That should make for some very pretty desktop backdrop photos!
• iTunes! At least Apple is self-aware enough to realize what a bloated pile of shit iTunes has become... and can even joke about it. Except... forgive me for not finding it funny that they are only just now addressing the problem when it's been a major hassle for years. And so now iTunes is dead and being replaced with Music... Podcasts... and TV...
That's all great and stuff... but until the server farm delivering my Apple-purchased media content is made much more stable, reliable, and actually worth a shit, it all means pretty much nothing to me.
• Sidecar! Use your iPad as a second screen? Yes please! That could come in SO handy sometimes when I just need a readout that's not covering up what I'm working on!
• Voice Control! At home, I am talking to my house (through Alexa) all the time. She controls absolutely everything, and I'm so accustomed to it that I don't even think about it any more. "Turn on the television!" and "Turn off the porch light!" and "Lock the door!" and "Show my the Catio Camera!" are just... natural(?)... to me now. But, for whatever reason, I just don't think of talking to my Mac. Maybe as it becomes more and more voice aware, that will change. From what they showed at the keynote, however, this could be a huge help to disabled persons who can't use keyboards or mice.
• Find My! Being able to find your devices, even when they are offline? Fantastic. This is the same concept of my "Tile" trackers that I have on my keys, in my backpack and in my wallet. It talks to nearby devices with extremely low power consumption so that you have a much better chance of finding your iPhone, MacBook, iPad, or whatever, that's gone missing.
• Locked! You can remotely lock/wipe your iPhone so that it becomes useless if stolen. There's no doubt in my mind that this is curbing theft of these devices. Why risk jail-time if you can't do anything with it? And now that technology is coming to the Mac, which is nice.
• Developers! Developers! Developers! The new Catalyst project that allows you to compile iPhone apps for the Mac... plus new advancements with their Swift programming language... plus continuing advancements in allowing easy integration of new technologies like AR (augmented reality)... Apple has (mostly) always made sure that developing for their products is as painless as possible, and it looks like they are serious about making sure that tradition continues. Good on you, Apple!
• Reality! And speaking of AR... the new "Reality Composer" sure looks interesting! It can automatically extract people so that rendered objects and move around them! Cool! And the Minecraft demo of how that works is pretty spectacular. This is the future of technology, and it's only a matter of time before we see it around our home... in our car windshields... and on our glasses...
Right now it's pretty much a technology demo... but you can see where it's all going. Eventually.
And that's the end of that, I guess. This keynote seemed a lot more "evolution" over "revolution," but there's some real winners in there that have me more optimistic than I was yesterday as to how much I want to be in bed with Apple any more. Given how pissed off I've been with them lately, that was no easy task. Having to wait until Fall to get at any of it is a bit of a bummer, but that's the way the Apple falls.
*Okay, I know practically nobody actually cares what I think, but that's probably the case for most subjects I blog about... why should this be any different?
Posted on November 21st, 2018
When the iPhone X was released last year, I wanted one. Badly. For one reason and one reason only... the camera. The dual-lens dream had abilities far better than the camera on my old iPhone 6 from 2014. And since I use my phone far more for photography than actual phone calls, it's nice to have a great camera on it. Problem was I couldn't afford it. I had a trip to Antarctica coming up that took every spare dollar in my possession (and then some). Except... along with the X, Apple also released something which put their latest and greatest within my reach: The iPhone Upgrade Program.
This interesting financing option is essentially a loan from Citizens One which amortizes the cost of the phone, plus AppleCare, plus interest over a 24 month period. That, in itself, is not all that "interesting," but I'll tell you what is interesting... after 12 payments you can trade your iPhone in for the latest model. You also have the option of paying off all 24 payments and owning the phone, but what fun is that? *
I didn't want to get the new phone before my trip to the bottom of the world (I probably would have dropped it into the ocean or smashed it on an iceberg or something) so I waited until I got back and ordered my
This past Monday night I received an email from Apple with the good news... my twelfth payment had processed and I was now eligible for an upgrade to the iPhone Xs! Guess my Monday wasn't as crappy as I had thought!
My first instinct was to wait three weeks and get a little life from the $56.16 payment I had just made. If I ordered the Xs right away, I'd have to pay that payment again (first month is in advance), which seems financially reckless. But then I remembered that I had a credit of $42 from a return I made, so I decided "What the heck?" And ordered anyway.
It arrived today.
I'm returning it on Monday (UPDATE: No I'm not... see below).
But before we get to that...
The new camera is even better than the X with a wider lens, 30% larger sensor, higher dynamic range, and machine learning image processing which does all kinds of magic so casual users get much better shots...
For professional photographers (and professional wannabes like myself) you'll need to get a camera app that shoots RAW and can put the power of the new camera within reach. Like the $6 Halide app (the developers of which wrote a great article on what the new Xs camera is capable of). I haven't done much shooting yet, but I'm pretty impressed with what I'm getting so far.
In the day I've had to play with the iPhone Xs, there's a lot to love about it beyond the new camera...
And now for the bad news...
As you can tell, I'm fairly pleased with the iPhone XS. It really is better in every way from the X that I got just one year ago. Except... even though it's essentially the exact same form as my old iPhone, the camera bump on the back is slightly larger at the bottom, so my old iPhone X case is a bit "off" on the new model. The pig-fuckers at Apple are expecting me to shell out $40 for a new silicone case, which is the cheapest case they make! I've never trusted third-party cases, so that was really my only option here.
Or so Apple wants you to believe!
Instead I took an X-ACTO blade and carved a bigger hole. Works just fine and saved me $40.
I positively loathe stupid, money-grabbing bullshit like this. Since the Xs was likely waaaayyyy down the road in development when Apple released the X, they probably knew they should have made the phone hole on the cases larger, but didn't. Because... well... $40 per case times millions of users equals serious money, yo.
And now for the WORST news...
The speakers on my X were fantastic. The Xs is supposed to have even better speakers. NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW THIS, BECAUSE MY UPPER SPEAKER IS DEFECTIVE AND I'M GOING TO HAVE TO RETURN MY BRAND NEW PHONE AND GET A NEW ONE. There's an annoying crackling plus audible distortion which plagues all sound coming from it. Whether it's a phone call or playing music, it's there. And it doesn't matter what volume it's at. Louder, softer, whatever.
UPDATE: Today when I answered a call, it was garbled as usual. I set my phone down to look for a paper, picked it back up, and suddenly it was sounding better? So I looked closely at the phone speaker and saw a tiny piece of film was pushed down into it, but had come out half-way. I pulled it out all the way and, just like that, PERFECT SOUND! No idea if the film came off the protective plastic you pull off or what, but I am so so so so happy that I don't have to exchange my new iPhone!
I was supposed to get a kit to return my old phone. It wasn't with my initial shipment, but Apple sent me an email telling me it will arrive soon. I hope so, because if I don't get the phone returned within 14 days, I'm billed for it.
If it weren't for my being on the iPhone Upgrade Program, I would not have upgraded to the Xs from the X. Yes, it's a better phone... but not that much better. Because I am on the program I decided to go for it even though I have to return my old phone and lose the money I've put towards it. Since I donate my old phones, this isn't an issue for me, but if you sell your old phones you might was to go the full 24 months and pay it off so you own it.
With my iPhoneX I bought the 256GB model. I barely used any of that memory. So this time I just went with the cheaper 64GB model. Even with everything I had installed, I still have 18GB free. Such is the beauty of having a phone that can upload my hi-res original images to iCloud so the thousands of photos I've taken aren't filling up my phone. Even so? I wish Apple had a 128GB model so I could split the difference in cost and have a bit more memory to play with. Might save me from swapping apps in and out of memory.
Unlike last time, this time Apple offered me two options for my AppleCare. The original AppleCare+... and a new "AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss Protection" for about $5 extra per month. I leapt at it. Sure this essentially eradicates the money I saved by getting a phone with less memory, but the peace of mind over not being on the hook for 100% of my $1000 phone if something happens? Worth it. Here's the deets: "Your coverage includes up to two incidents of accidental damage, theft, or loss. Each incident is subject to a deductible of $29 for screen damage, $99 for all other accidental damage, or $269 for a theft or loss claim." I'm not sure how this works. If I have my screen repaired twice at $29, then my iPhone gets stolen, am I completely screwed? Hopefully it's two incidents each, but who knows? Something I need to check into, I guess.
Ultimately I'd be happy with my iPhone Xs if Apple's quality control had ensured I got one with a working speaker. Here's hoping my next one doesn't have to be returned as well.
*I used to always keep my old phone in case I lose or break the new one, then donate my old-old-phone from before that to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Sure I won't be able to donate any more if I choose to upgrade, but Apple gives millions upon millions to charities with their money, so at least I know some of the money Apple makes off the program is going to good causes.
Posted on November 5th, 2018
I have work in Spokane early tomorrow morning, so I'm heading across the basin today rather than have to leave at some ungodly hour tomorrow. I really, really don't want to be away from Jake while he's sick, even for just one night, but duty calls (disappointing though that may be).
This was far from the only disappointment today.
Things went off the rails early this morning because my cats are not thrilled about Daylight Saving Time ending. As in seriously not thrilled. They were anxious at 6:00am (their 7:00am feeding time, as far as they know). Concerned at 6:10am. Upset at 6:20am. And absolutely livid by the time I went to feed them at 6:30 (I am slowly adjusting them to the hour time difference, whatever good that does). Jenny was pacing the room and meowing her head off. Jake was pawing at my face while squawking. It's exactly how you want to start a Monday.
I pulled their "Feed-and-Go" automated internet feeders out of storage so I could get them set up and filled. Except... I couldn't get them set up. The company that makes them went out of business last month. Bad enough that they had to close and shut down their cloud servers, rendering their $200 feeders useless. But it's reprehensible that they didn't bother to notify their customers... or keep their website up with a message to warn their customers... or push out an app update which warns their customers. Because otherwise there is NO WAY TO KNOW that the cloud service has been shuttered. The blue network light on the units still glows blue! Luckily I test the units every time I haul them out, otherwise my cats wouldn't have been fed. And had I been gone longer? They wouldn't have been fed FOR THREE DAYS. With the Feed-and-Go website down, I had to find out the news via a cached Google search...
Feed and Go is sad to say, it's closed it's doors.
We're extremely sad and sorry to say that Feed and Go has closed its doors. We had an amazing time helping thousands of pets eat healthier and on schedule. The time has unfortunately come to close the operation of our web app, and mobile app services. This will mean that unfortunately your Feed and Go's will no longer work as an automated feeder, and will not connect to our servers. We want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of our mission and wish you and your pet many happy moments ahead.
What a bunch of pig-fucking monsters. They are perfectly content to LET YOUR PET STARVE rather than contact you so you know that their product no longer works. I can only hope that whomever responsible will be roasting in hell soon. I also hope that some genius electronics expert out there will come up with a circuit board replacement that will allow the feeder to be programmed directly, instead of relying on a cloud service that's not there any more.
I had a couple other automated feeders from back when I was feeding Spanky, but they needed D batteries and I didn't have time to go get some. So instead I filled bowls with way too much food so Jake and Jenny can graze 'til their hearts' content. And hopefully not over-eat and puke everywhere.
I noticed that the motor on the drinking fountain had burned out. It's less that a year old. Guess I'm putting out a bowl of water next to the heaping bowls of food...
Since I was coming to Spokane, I decided to get the passenger airbag replaced in my car. Toyota has been sending dozens of notices telling me that there was a recall, but I would rather die than go to the asshole who owns the local Toyota dealership. Since Spokane was where it was purchased, it made sense to go there.
After dropping off the car, I decided to get a falafel wrap at The Pita Pit. Only to find that they had gone out of business, just like Feed-and-Go...
No problem, I walked a couple blocks to a cafe with good sandwiches... only to find out they closed at 10:00 this morning for "maintenance."
Rather than wander around aimlessly, I decided to just go to Red Robin. They no longer have Boca Burgers (inexplicably replacing them with a veggie burger that's so gag-inducing awful I'd rather eat meat). I ended up eating their guacamole, salsa and chips, which wouldn't have been bad except the chips were stale. For dessert I wanted some of their cinnamon sugar mini donuts with caramel sauce. Except they came plain with no cinnamon sugar and instead of caramel, I got raspberry sauce. As if that wasn't enough, the donuts were overcooked.
The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program I've got allows me to replace my iPhone with the newest model every year. Since my replace-date is coming up, I thought I would drop by the Apple Store and take a look. I also wanted to look at the newest MacBook Pro models, as I'm sure I'll have to be replacing my 2012 model sometime soon. When I asked the Apple sales guy if there was a MacBook Pro that had an SD card slot and a USB and Thunderbolt port... you know, LIKE ACTUAL FUCKING PRO MACHINES WOULD HAVE... I was told no. "Everything has moved to USB-C, because that's the new industry standard." Alrighty then. We're back to Apple being clueless fucking assholes as to knowing what professionals need, but whatevs. So I moved on to the iPhone XS. I thought to ask if the charging cable that came with it had USB-C so I could charge it from the new MacBook Pro. The sales guy told me "No, it comes with the older USB-A and I would have to buy a $20 dongle." And so... I guess USB-C is not quite the "industry standard" I was just told it was since Apple itself isn't using it on their most popular product (by far).
Which begs the question... "Does Tim Cook, Jonathan Ivy, or absolutely anybody at all at Apple know what the fuck they are doing?" Because it honestly doesn't seem that way.
In the past their products were overpriced, but at least I knew I'd be getting something that provided value for the money and would be cutting edge when it came to features. But now? That's not even close to being the truth. Less features with less power and with less flexibility... all while being grotesquely overpriced. It's as if Apple has been working overtime to become the cliché they've always been painted as.
As I was leaving The Apple Store, I was very nearly run down by a group of amish(?!?) women on motorized scooters. They were driving on a busy sidewalk way too fast and seemed as if they were barely in control of the things. At least I think they were amish because they had those little hair covers on their heads and were wearing dresses. But I thought the amish didn't use technology... and since you have to have a mobile phone app to rent the things, maybe they weren't amish after all?
In any event, these stupid fucking scooters are littering the sidewalks everywhere downtown, so apparently the latest episode of South Park isn't just hype...
At the very least, they should be illegal to drive on the sidewalk. Given how fast they travel, somebody could get seriously hurt. And if somebody ever runs into me with one of them, I'm going to pick up the scooter and beat them to death with it.
After walking eight blocks in surprisingly cold weather, I picked up my car and headed to my hotel. They asked if I had a room preference, so I told them top floor and as far away from the elevator as possible so it would be less noisy and I could get some sleep. They put me on the top floor... but right across from the elevator. And next to a room with a woman coughing her head off. Which makes me even more thrilled that I wasn't able to stay home tonight.
If there's a bright side to having to drive three hours to Spokane, it's that some of my favorite pizza on earth is here... David's Pizza. Their DaVinci pizza (with tomato, pesto, and feta) is seriously delicious...
Unfortunately I had the grave misfortune to arrive on "Let Your Screaming Kids Run Apeshit Through The Restaurant Night." A whole team of the little fuckers were running around screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming... while the parents were in some kind of group meeting in the next room not giving a fuck that people were trying to eat in peace. By the time I left I had such a splitting headache that any enjoyment I got from my pizza was destroyed.
I decided to end this entry at 8:00pm tonight because I'm worried that continuing on any longer is just inviting more disappointment. Hopefully work will go smoothly so I can head home as soon as possible in the morning and be done with all this nonsense.
Until the next time, of course.
UPDATE: There it is! MobiLinc (the internet connect platform I use to control a good chunk of my home automation, has gone down...
It's been up and running 24/7 perfectly for months... so of course it goes down when I'm away from home and really need it. No idea what's wrong, as the cameras, alarms, and all the non-MobiLic devices are connected to the internet just fine. Perhaps it's time for me to go to bed and turn off the world.
Posted on September 13th, 2018
As my enthusiasm for Apple has waned, so too has my enthusiasm for their "events" where they unleash their new products and services on the world.
I do watch them of course. I may not be the raving Apple Whore™ I once was but, as there is no better alternative, I am still tied to the Apple ecosystem.
THIS IS BIG
If you want to watch the event before reading what I have to say about it, knock yourself out...
If you'd rather just get an 108-second summary, here you go...
Gotta hand it to Apple... boy do they know how to make "stuff" seem cool.
After moving from Apple Campus to Apple Park (home of the Giant Donut HQ, AKA "The Apple Mothership"... a building larger than The Pentagon), information on the massive complex in Cupertino has been relatively scarce. Yes, there's been a good article, a few videos, and some interviews, but nothing showing a major behind the scenes look at any of it. At this year's event (held in the Steve Jobs Theater), there were new bits and pieces shown in the cute video that started things off. If you didn't watch the entire keynote above, here it is...
Gorgeous. Obviously I'm dying to visit. But since the only thing you can see when you show up is the 100 million-dollar visitor center, I don't know that it's worth the trip.
If there's one area where Apple continues to impress me, it's with their retail operations. The stunning architecture that is the hallmark of these gorgeous new spaces is mind-blowing...
Now that Hard Rock Cafes have gone all hipster-lounge and are not nearly the destination-worthy attractions they used to be, one could make a strong argument for visiting Apple Stores around the globe.
As I have said every time a new Apple Watch is released, the product is not for me. I have tiny wrists and wearing a massive piece of tech on my arm is not something that works. I'd much rather keep my iPhone in my pocket and use that than to be uncomfortable. Not that I don't see the appeal. Having so much so readily available is definitely something that interests me. Especially with the new Series 4 watches, which add all kinds of things that have me reconsidering my stance...
The sizing issue is helped by more of the product being devoted to the watch face... and that it is supposed to be thinner. Probably not so thin that I'd be happy to wear it, but anything to take bulk away is a step in the right direction. Perhaps it's time that I visit an Apple Store and see if the smaller watch is something I could handle? Maybe. Or, if you factor in the new EKG capabilities, probably...
Yes, you read that right, the thing has a frickin' EKG built into it! I've always had issues with rapid heartbeat, so maybe the new pulse sensors and EKG stuff makes Apple Watch Series 4 a smart move? And now they've also added fall detection to the mix. Considering I just had a bad spill earlier this week, maybe this is more of a necessity than a luxury as I get older? It's certainly very cool. If my cats won't help me and I can't ask Alexa to get help because I'm unconscious, perhaps now is the time to invest...
We don't have an Apple Store in my corner of Redneckistan, but I think AT&T stores will be carrying them... so maybe there's that. Or a trip to Seattle to check things out.
It would be easy to dismiss the evolution of the iPhone X to iPhone XS with a big "meh" since things haven't changed a huge amount there. But there are three things that make Apple's latest and greatest worth a look. The first is that they are coming out with a "XS Max" version of iPhone X with a larger screen. I don't care about this, but I know a lot of people do. I was not happy having to go with the larger size of the "X" but ultimately adjusted. There's no way I want to have to get used to something even bigger in my pocket. Assuming it would even fit in my pocket...
The second? Photography. The faster processor of the next-gen A12 Bionic chip sounds pretty sweet. The machine learning enhancements of the "Neural Engine" alone make for some exciting possibilities down the pipe... particularly in the arena of Augmented Reality stuff. I use my phone primarily for calls, texts, home automation control, and Facebook... none of which will benefit from all this additional power. What will benefit? The thing I use my camera for more than any other function (by a long shot!)... photography. And here's why... the new processing power will allow you to adjust aperture after the photo has been taken! So you don't have to tap anywhere to set focus points and depth of field, you just fire away and adjust after the fact. Amazing...
More than anything else Apple has tossed out at this event, this is what makes me covet the new iPhone XS. Well, this and the fact that they've upgraded the camera itself again. Better low-light shots with less noise and more detail. Better HDR. Better Bokeh. Stronger dual-lens capabilities. Apple just keeps getting closer and closer to DSLRs. Heck, I wish I had some of these capabilities with my DSLRs!
And that third thing? The display. Hands-on reports say that the display fidelity of the XS is pretty spectacular and a noticeable upgrade from the X. This intrigues me because I thought the OLED Super Retina X display was pretty great already.
There are a few other notable improvements. Apparently the new XS models are capable of "Gigabyte class" LTE cellular speeds. The lack of which was a big criticism of mine on the old X model. But until I know if "Gigabyte class LTE" equals "Gigabyte LTE" I have no idea what this means. It only matters if you travel in an area where it's available but, if you are in that area, it does matter. Another interesting change? Apple has gone with eSIM rather than traditional SIM cards. This is fantastic if you have two phones and would like to be able to use both in a single handset. I have no idea how this affects being able to use foreign SIM cards for cheap foreign service when I'm out of the country though. Everybody knows to contact me with WhatsApp, so the carrier doesn't matter when I'm abroad... all that matters is the price. If I can't easily change SIMs with eSIM, that kinda sucks.
In general, I've preferred to grab an older model phone over a new cheaper model if I don't have the cash for the latest and greatest. In my head, "former top-of-the-line" beats "cheaper newer alternative" when it comes to tech. Not necessarily every time, but often. Apple once again dips into "cheaper newer" territory with their XR model. And, once again, it's the only way to get cool colors like Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, and Red...
Boy would I like to have me a red iPhone! Guess I'll have to settle for a red case again. But anyway... the XR features the same amazing Bionic 12 chip, cool wireless charging, and fantastic TrueDepth sensor array (so everybody can use Face ID to unlock their phone, a feature I love). Where Apple cut corners to get a cheaper price is mainly with the display. Being LCD, its contract ratio is 1,400:1 instead of the stunning 1,000,000:1 ration of the OLED on the XS. Also? No 3D Touch on these displays. Another savings is with the single camera vs. the dual-cams in the flagship models. None of these are terrible compromises. Whether it's worth the $250 savings is the question people are going to have to answer. If I weren't already going with Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program, I would probably pick the XR in red and be done with it. But since I am with Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program (the only way I can really afford any new-model iPhone now-a-days), I'll just swap my X for an XS when my renewal comes in December.
Not surprisingly, MacOS X was once again shit upon at the event. Apple has long been used their World Wide Developers Conference for all things Macintosh, so all we got from Tim was a reminder that "OS X Mojave" is coming on the 24th and it has "Dark Mode." Wheee...
Boy I wish Apple would put some serious money into redefining the desktop experience. Despite annual upgrades, MacOS X feels stale (at best) and downright stagnant (at worst). Giving us "dark mode" ain't going to fix that. Given how most of their revenue comes from iOS, neglecting the Mac is hardly surprisingly. But it is disappointing. Almost as disappointing as their "pro" model hardware that's not really "pro" at all.
And that's a wrap. Until next time. Where hopefully we will get an update on Apple's AirPower charging mat... something that was supposed to be released by now?
Posted on June 5th, 2018
And lo, Apple did unleash another World Wide Developer's Conference this week.
Given my rapidly diminishing enthusiasm for Apple, I wasn't the least bit compelled to drop everything and watch it live. Instead I made it my after-dinner entertainment tonight.
Here are my thoughts on the parts that stood out to me...
If there's a promise for the future of computing that most people can see coming, it's augmented reality. Apple has teamed up with Pixar to create the USDZ file format for AR Kit 2. This is a fascinating advancement, and the fact that Adobe has grabbed it by the throat and promised support for USDZ in Creative Cloud bodes well for the format. Craig Federighi demonstrated customizing a USDZ guitar and dropping it into reality at actual size so you can visualize exactly what it will look like in your space...
Federighi then demoed AR "Shared Experiences" where two people were playing the same game from their own perspective, and it looks pretty amazing...
But the coolest demo? LEGO!!! They've shown how their physical models can be recognized by AR Kit, then expanded upon with virtual "sets" which are interactive in AR space. Then they showed how two people could explore the space with their own characters at the same time as your real-life model comes alive...
You can even look inside the physical model to see what's happening inside of it. Kids are going to love this. Especially LEGO-loving BIG kids like me!
The future of AR is mind-boggling. You just know that Apple is developing a headset for full VR/AR envelopment. It will be cool to visit the world... real and imagined... from your sofa.
I'm still sore from Apple discontinuing Aperture, but they're adding interesting features to Photos, including search, which I'm assuming is making use of their machine-learning algorithm. This will make it easy to dig through the bajillion images on my iPhone. Other features, like automatic image collaboration between iPhone users are also a step in the right direction.
I use Alexa on my Amazon Echo dozens of times a day because she can do so much stuff. I rarely use Siri because she can't really do much of anything. Apple seems to be aware of this, and is attempting to make Siri more relevant and useful. A big step up is "Siri Shortcuts," which allows Siri to be customized for your life, and even monitor your habits and schedule to suggest ways she can help out. It's all nice, and will probably encourage me to use Siri more, but my primary use of a digital assistant is home automation. Unfortunately Apple is married to their shitty, shitty "HomeKit," which I gave up on. Maybe if they start allowing other automation interfaces... like my ISY... I'd be able to use Siri for many of the things I use Alexa for.
It's kind of bizarre that Apple is advocating not using your iPhone so much, but once they sell you the phone, they probably don't care how often you use it. To that end, they've expanded what "Do Not Disturb" can do, added new features to slow or group Notifications, and even added "Screen Time" which can monitor and limit how much you use certain apps. Parents can use "Screen Time" to monitor, adjust, and allow/disallow apps on their kid's phones remotely... and restrict access to certain apps and sites. It's a great idea... but I wonder how many people will use it. They use their phone when they want to use their phone and it seems bizarre to set limits on that. Our lives are our phones now, for better or worse.
I rarely use Animoji. Apple adding the ability to stick your tongue out or customize Animoji to look like you with "Memoji" is probably not going to change that. It's fun, and very cool... but I don't see it getting much use from me...
Being able to put an Animoji over your head and add stickers live for photos is an interesting spin, however...
Maybe I'll be more apt to video chat if I can use an avatar like this and not have to worry whether or not I'm having a good hair day.
Group Facetime for up to 32 people at the same time is a pretty incredible technical achievement. The fact that Apple made the feature so smart is what makes Apple be Apple. When somebody starts speaking, they enlarge so you know who's doing the talking. You can also use Live Animoji or Live Memoji during Facetime calls. This would be a complete zoo, but an interesting one.
I always like to see how Apple Watch is maturing but, until they find a way to make it thinner on my skinny arm, I'm just not interested... no matter how many cool and useful features get added. Kinda sad how Apple has resurrected the dreaded "push-to-talk" and is calling it "Walkie Talkie." I frickin' hate push-to-talk because I don't want to hear people shouting to each other over a phone (or watch) in public. Aren't phone calls irritating enough?
I really like my Apple TV, but it's got a lot of problems that no amount of new features are going to fix. I can't tell you how many times I've had it lock up. Or be unable to stream a purchase. Or have the interface go all screwy for no reason. I reboot the dang thing so many times that I finally bought an electrical plug that I can control on my iPhone so I don't have to get up, unplug it, then plug it back in. When I contact Apple support, they tell me the problem is always, always, always my internet. So I switched from cable to fiber, which is ten times faster download speed. Still having problems. If bandwidth issues are such an AppleTV-killer, they need to have their apps be a lot smarter on handling it. None of the other apps on my AppleTV have any problems. Netflix, HBO, CBS, ABC, YouTube, Hulu... all of them just fine. So it's not the AppleTV hardware... it's Apple's software that's the problem. You'd think with billions of dollars Apple could get somebody to fix their shit, but no.
"We love the Mac! — Tim Cook says this every time he presents the Mac at WWDC. He pretty much has to say it because Mac users aren't seeing it. I am almost to my breaking point with frustration at just how bad MacOS has gotten. Printing is so screwed up that it's almost impossible to get work done. Way too many times I end up having to put my work into a PDF and send it to a colleague so they can print it on their Windows machine. Apple can blame printer companies all they want, but it's their OS updates which cause things to break. And lately Apple introduced a huge bug which makes your mouse pointer unable to access menus if you go to the very top of the screen. You have to move the pointer down on the menu bar in order to get a menu to work. WHAT THE FUCK?!?? does ANYBODY bother to beta test this shit anymore? Who the fuck releases such obvious bugs into an OS update? Apple. That's who. They may "love the Mac" but they are constantly shitting all over it, so you'll have to excuse me for not believing them.
Apple has been promising automated file stacking and organization for years... but the only place it was ever implemented was in the Dock. Now it's come to the desktop. This is a nice feature for people like me who make a huge mess out of their desktop on a daily basis. But this is the biggest new feature of the next
Adding handy tools to QuickLook is nice, but they aren't very smart about where they are putting their efforts. What about the third party tool you have to buy in order to modify file dates and manipulate other file data? THAT'S WHAT THE FINDER SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO! But instead we get the ability to trim a video clip in the Mac file manager? WTF? Handy, yes, but is editing video something you really need to do on the desktop? Is opening up iMovie really so difficult? How about adding new file tools to the file manager? Revolutionary, I know.
I actually use News on my iPhone, so I'm happy that Apple is bringing the app to my desktop.
I will say this again for those in the cheap seats... HomeKit is utter shit. Partly because AppleTV is totally inadequate as a hub for it. Mostly because it's so restrictive that anybody serious about home automation just doesn't give a shit about it. I tried HomeKit with my locks and couldn't wait to get rid of it. Unreliable, slow, and not nearly pervasive enough with manufacturers, Apple should just buy a company that actually knows how to do this and give up on their massive failure.
Apple's continuing efforts to protect its users' privacy is admirable. No matter how far they go, it will never be far enough, but I'm grateful for what we do get.
Machine Learning is one of those things that's incredibly useful, and the fact that Apple has been advancing in this area so rapidly is encouraging. And now they've created tools for analyzing datasets which make it easier than ever to get information into a machine learning environment. The possibilities here are mind-boggling, and one of the few exciting things to be happening in MacOS X. Whether it will get put to good use is anybody's guess.
Here we go with "We love the Mac" again. This time in the context of the question "Is Apple merging iOS and MacOS?" The answer is "no," but Apple is bringing more of the tools from iOS to MacOS so that iOS apps can be ported to the Mac. Which is great for developers. If your app can run on a phone, pad, and desktop, then this is a big step forward to making it easier to get there.
And that was the end of that. No new hardware released announced for the MacOS X side of things, which is hugely disappointing. Apple used to absolutely rule this arena. Even people who had to run Windows were buying Mac laptops to do it because they were just that good. But Apple doesn't seem to give a shit now... releasing "pro" equipment that's not what "pros" even want. Instead of true innovation we get a "touch bar" or some silly shit slapped on, which is just a weak effort to hide the fact that the base specs aren't much better than they were five years ago. Oh well. Apple had a good run, but I guess it couldn't last forever. Hopefully Adobe will port their software to Linux so I can switch away from Apple before they hit rock bottom.
Where's the ghost of Steve Jobs when you need him?
Posted on January 7th, 2018
It's the first Bullet Sunday of 2018, and it starts... now...
• Discovery! Oh happy day... Star Trek: Discovery is back after a month hiatus. And it's just gone Next Level. It's always had beautiful set design and special effects... sublime characters and acting... plus great plot-driven stories... but now? Utter craziness ensues...
If you love sci-fi (and even if you don't like Star Trek), this should be on your list. Yes, you have to pay for "CBS All-Access" to get it, but it's one of the few shows I honestly don't mind paying extra for. All the money is on the screen.
• Crisis! Speaking of amazing television.. the 4-Part Arrowverse Mega Crossover for "Crisis on Earth-X" (between The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow) was fantastic. Far, far better than Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League put together (which is essentially the television-equivalent of what "Crisis on Earth-X" was)...
The best comic book crossovers always have meaningful consequences rather than being just for kicks. "Crisis on Earth X" has this in spades. All four shows have actual consequences for their respective stories. As if that weren't enough, it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. This just proves once again how the DC movie franchise should be turned over to the television showrunners. What they manage to do with a television budget is squee-worthy comic book fanboy dreamy.
• Legion! Speaking of Supergirl... when it comes to comic books, The Legion of Super-Heroes has long been one of my favorite series of all time. Even when I shifted away from DC to Marvel (thanks, George Pérez!) I never left The Legion far behind. Following them through their every incarnation... for better and for worse (but mostly for worse)... they ARE comic books to me.
Not sure what to think of them in this promo, but you know I'll be watching!
• iPhone X! I've had a few people asking how I like the iPhone X. I waited a week to write my review, so it pretty much sums up where I'm at three weeks later. FaceID is more amazing that I gave it credit for. Any trouble I was having was from my holding the phone too close when my glasses were off. Now that I'm used to not sticking my phone close to my face for FaceID, it's near-flawless. No idea how secure it is, but it's incredible how good it works. Like I said, most of the time I don't even think about it... which is all you could want from a technology. When I heard about it, I imagined that it would take my staring at the phone for a minute for it to activate, but that's not the case at all. A subtle glance is all it takes and it's near instantaneous. Other than that? Still love the camera. Still hate how difficult it is to get to the Control Panel. Still not thrilled with "The Notch" (though I mostly don't notice it). Still not entirely sure it's worth the money. But I do still love it, so there's that.
• All New! Oh yeah... the latest issue of Thrice Fiction was released last week...
As always, you can download it or read it online absolutely FREE over at the Thrice Fiction website.
• iPhone X! For reals. My biggest discovery for 2017 was the Philips "OneBlade" razor. Is it as close as a blade? Hell no. Is it as close as an electric razor? Not really. But holy crap is it an effortless way to groom! Goes through anything, so even if you've forsaken your face for a week like I have, you can still easily clean up WITHOUT trimming first! I haven't replaced my trimmer yet... nor my electric razor... but, this is so handy. When I travel, OneBlade is all I need...
• New School! Well... adapt or die, as they say...
What worked before is failing us now. It's only going to get worse unless people with vision has the guts to step up and initiate change.
• Sparkle! All the hand-power-scrubbers suck. Not powerful enough to clean shit (assuming you have shit all over something) let alone soap scum. Enter THE REVOLVER! Attaches to your drill and has more than enough power to rip through soap scum!
As I was cleaning my shower I kept laughing "MWAH HA HA HA HAAAA!" as everything was getting sparkly clean.
And... back to Bullet Sundays as usual next week!
Posted on December 22nd, 2017
Yesterday I took a look at my current collection of phones. Today I'll take a look at Apple's latest and greatest... the iPhone X.
As I said yesterday, I love it. For the most part.
But there are times I have to ask myself if the $1000 price tag (or whatever the monthly charge is with my Apple Upgrade Plan, which is how I can afford to buy the thing) is worth it. My previous phone, an iPhone 6, did everything I needed and still works perfectly fine. The iPhone X is, naturally, faster at stuff... but so much of what I used it for is exactly the same. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp may load faster, but the game experience is exactly the same. Safari doesn't load pages much faster over what I had. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I just went into debt $1000+ so what am I getting for my money?
Funny you should ask, as I now examine the iPhone X piece by piece...
The iPhone X is a whopping ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. MINIMUM. This is absurdly expensive and, given the cost estimates I’ve seen for the actual parts and labor, a total cash grab by Apple because they know everybody will want one no matter what it cost. In all honesty, the $750 price tag of the Galaxy S8 seems much more reasonable for this phone, but that’s Apple for you. Many times while looking at my bank account I'll wish I had just gone for the iPhone 8, but the deed is done so I'm just embracing the horror.
Getting my new phone running was relatively painless. My iPhone 6 had iOS 11 on it, so I just had to hold it next to the new phone and (eventually) it gave up most of the info needed. Since FaceID is brand new, this adds another step, of course. You have to stare into the selfie (front) camera and rotate your head around so the X can map it out. Eventually your phone wants to download and install the latest iOS update (11.2 for me) at which time you have to enter your four-digit PIN code. Why they don’t use FaceID here is a mystery, but whatevs. After that your settings (right down to your home and lock screen background images) are grabbed from iCloud and your phone downloads all the apps you had on your previous phone. For some weird reason I had to set up my credit cards for Apple Pay twice, but this just involved entering my security codes and waiting for the bank to approve them, so not a big deal. After saying some sample phrases so Siri can understand me, I was ready to roll. Like I said... painless setup assuming you have an older phone running
I would have preferred to stick with the non-plus size phone that I already had... but the iPhone X isn’t that much bigger. Under a quarter inch top and bottom, which I can live with. The problem (if you can call it that) is that the screen real estate is larger so you can't really navigate one-handed with your thumb any more. I'm thinking of re-ordering how my apps are laid out to see if I can at least do my most common tasks one-handed, but adjusting to a new home screen layout is not something I'm looking forward to.
I am going to be brutally honest here... my Samsung Galaxy S8 kinda edges out the iPhone X when it comes to sheer looks. The S8 looks more what you’d think a mobile phone of the future would look like. The X looks like more of the same. That being said, the minimalism of the X probably pushes my aesthetics buttons a touch more than the S8. But barely. I love them both. If I have a gripe with Apple's design choices, having the camera lenses protrude out the back of the camera would be a big one. With a case on, no big deal... but still pretty tacky in the way it jacks up the clean lines and form factor of the phone. Why Apple hasn't made this a priority in their aesthetic is a mystery to me.
Make no mistake... the iPhone X is a fragile piece of tech. On my 6, I didn’t use a case, I applied corner bumpers and a screen protector. With my X I got a full-on Apple-branded silicone case and a screen protector because it’s got a lot of glass and feels far more fragile than my old phone. As an aside, I looked at a lot of cases and ultimately settled on the Apple Silicone Case, which is very nice. Beautifully constructed and branded... great to the touch... not slippery... an all around perfect choice if not for the absurd $40 price tag. Seriously, other similar cases are $15, which I would have gladly purchased if not for the ugly branding.
Considering that Apple is using the OLED panel that Samsung makes, it’s no surprise that the X looks as remarkable as the S8. Actually better, somehow. What *is* surprising is that Apple decided to notch out the screen at the top in order to maximize frontal screen real estate while still allowing for the camera and sensors the X needs. Honestly, I stopped noticing it after a couple days. Mostly. It is what it is and my brain has made peace with it.
Except... I still hate it...
Stylistically it looks crazy stupid and the way the status bar has to display around it is downright silly. And then there’s the fact that THERE’S A GIANT NOTCH THAT IS CUT OUT OF EVERYTHING YOU LOOK AT THAT'S FULL-SCREEN, FROM PHOTOS TO MOVIES TO GAMES. The thing is so bizarre that even Apple seems unsure what to do with it half the time. Older apps ignore it and center their screen from top and bottom, which is actually preferable to having to look at the notch, in my humble opinion. Seriously, I would have rather had a black bar at the top and a phone that was an eighth-inch taller than this absurdly bastardized compromise. The end.
The iPhone X has darn good sound... bordering on amazing sound... and is loud. As in room-filling loud at only 2/3 full volume. Which is good, because the quality of sound diminishes pretty fast when you go past 2/3 full volume. Still... I have to admire just how much care Apple put into the acoustics to have iPhone X be this good. I have tested it out by having a wide variety of music playing next to me while I work and am always impressed. Crisp notes in the highs and thumping bass in the lows. As an improvement over my iPhone 6, the X has stereo speakers in landscape orientation (one in the bottom and one in the earpiece). This isn't a heck of a lot of separation, but you actually do get surprisingly good stereo out of the thing. There are times that the sound transcends what should be possible in such a small device... especially when watching movies with good spatial sound. All isn't perfect, however. While listening to the achingly beautiful Some Kind of Love by The Killers, for example, there are parts where the sound becomes so distorted (even at half-volume) that it's hard to listen to. Not sure why certain sounds are so difficult for iPhone X to render when it's so great so often, but it's an issue that pops up often enough to be a problem.
I pull out my phone and swipe up to activate it. FaceID is so quick that I forget it’s even happening while I’m doing it. This is a far cry from TouchID where you can’t help but notice that you’re jockeying your thumb on the home button to get a read on it (or, if you’re using a Galaxy S8, you’re sliding your finger all over the camera lens on the back trying to get a read on its inexplicably-placed back fingerprint scanner that’s right next door). I didn’t know how I’d feel about FaceID, but I absolutely love it and don’t think I could go back to anything else. It even works in the dark somehow. Yes, there are a few times I've had to move the phone a bit (usually while laying in bed) and if my glasses are off it can have some trouble, but the fact that the tech works as remarkably well as it does the majority of the time is a true testament to Apple's innovation here. The fact that you get Animojis out of the deal is just a bonus...
Yeah. Something tells me that Animoji will get really old really quickly.
The wireless charging is great. Except... the chargers I found that work with the iPhone’s quick-charge are pretty crappy so far (including the Belkin I bought, which is $50!). And Apple really shit the bed here by using only 7.5W instead of the 15W that Qi standard allows, which means it takes forever to charge your phone completely. WHY?!?? And apparently Apple decided not to use two-way communication, so your phone can’t tell the charger when its full. WHY?!?? If you’re really in a hurry to charge your phone, plugging it into a powerful 30W charger (not included) is obviously the way to go. Assuming you want to spend the money for it. My iPhone 6S still has a good battery because I was careful to never leave it plugged in all the time. Wireless charging seems to invite this since you have to leave it on the thing overnight, so I dunno if it's actually a benefit. Depends on how much it costs to replace the battery at iFixit, I suppose.
That being said... the battery seems good on my iPhone X. After the initial charge, I didn't charge it again for two days. Granted I am not on it all day long... but there were some pretty intense periods of use for games and such, so it's still pretty impressive. At least it is for how I use my phone. But how long will it last? That's a good question. Battery longevity is a problem that manufacturers like Apple seem to like (since most people will just buy a new phone instead of replace the battery like I do) so it's probably not a priority.
Okay... here’s ultimately the real reason I paid the premium price for the iPhone X instead of going with the iPhone 8. I wanted the spectacular dual-lens camera that comes in the 8+ but didn’t want to buy a purse to carry that massive phone in. With the X, you get the 8+ camera at the 8 size phone, and that was worth the $300 to me. Heck, $300 is what it would take to buy a decent pocket camera, so going X is just one less thing to carry around. And the camera is indeed great. A nice improvement over my Samsung Galaxy S8, which is already a pretty amazing camera. The colors are richer and less washed out. The sharpness is mind-bogglingly good. The low-light abilities are equally great. It’s the total camera package and I love love love it. If, for no other reason, that I get great cat photos from it...
I'm torn on "Portrait Mode." This feature simulates an aperture for depth of field control without actually having a variable aperture. From what I can understand, it uses both cameras at the same time to try and figure out what parts of the image are closest to the camera so it can blur out the background artificially. Sometimes it works pretty great. Other times my main subject has weird blurry edges. Other times background blur is really bad quality with heavy, artificial halos, like my feet in this shot...
I prefer to turn off "Portrait Mode" and just let the camera's built-in aperture play the cards you're dealt. Still, overall a superb camera... and the video capabilities are world-class... you could film a movie with this thing! I'm guessing you'll get more than a few shots that will surprise people when you tell them they were taken with a frickin' phone. I mean, come on... look how sharp Jake's fur is in that shot! And that's reduced-resolution to fit my blog! I plan to write more about iPhone X photography in a future entry, so stay tuned.
Interesting to note that the iPhone X has an extra row of app icons compared to what my old iPhone 6 allowed. Very nice to have four more apps handy on the first home screen. As I mentioned previously, however, you can't reach all of them with your thumb one-handed... even if you've got long fingers like I do.
In lieu of the missing home button, Apple has replaced physical function with swipe gestures. Some of them work. Swiping up to get to the home screen... fine. Swiping up and pausing to get to the app switcher... fine. Swiping right across the bottom for previously-used apps... great. But swiping down from the top-right corner to get to the Control Panels? Awful. No way to do that one-handed. In order to reach it one-handed, you have to use Apple's "reachability" feature which used to be a simple double tap on the home button... but now is almost impossible with a swipe down on a tiny portion at the bottom of the screen (assuming you've enabled it in preferences). For heaven's sake, provide a sane alternative to get to the Control Panels screen... like swiping left past the "Widgets" screen... or even providing an icon... SOMETHING! The Control Panels screen is something I use constantly. To make it so absurdly difficult to access after it was so easy before-hand is a big detriment to iPhone X.
Compared to my iPhone 6 and 6S, the X is monumentally faster (as you would expect). Compared to my Galaxy S8, the X is (surprisingly) quite a bit faster as well. Using the same apps side-by-side on both phones it’s noticeably faster on the X, which surprises me. I guess all the hype Apple made over their "A11 Bionic Chip" is justified. The iOS interface is so flawlessly buttery smooth and glitch-free as to be remarkable in itself. Action games are beyond good, and well-developed newer games on iPhone X rival dedicated consoles for speed and quality (seriously, install an app like Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade and prepare to be blown away)...
I'm sure there will be a slew of new games optimized for the A11 Bionic, which means it's a great time to be an iPhone gamer.
Here’s where Apple bites it... and bites it hard. Samsung has implemented Gigabit LTE tech in their phones whereas Apple has been sitting on their hands. You don’t notice it much where I live here in Redneckistan... but in larger cities with optimized LTE networks, you do. I noticed it when traveling with both of my phones and always chalked it up to my newer Samsung phones having a faster chip-set than my much older iPhone 6S. Turns out that was only part of the game, and Apple has a lot of catching up to do. I hope they are adequately embarrassed for falling so far behind the competition. Rather than rehash this puzzling failure by Apple, here's a link to read if you're interested in this kind of stuff.
When Apple debuted the iPhone X, a big chunk of the keynote presentation was devoted to Augmented Reality, and it's clear Apple has big plans for the iPhone to be a major player in the field. Not that you'd know it from some of the shitty apps that are available right now. I downloaded two games, both of which were crap. They force you to watch ads for other games to play and weren't the least bit entertaining, so I deleted them immediately...
I also bought The Machines which was the AR gaming app that Apple demoed during the keynote. It's a far superior game to most of the dreck out there, but not quite "there" yet. Not that it's bad or unplayable... it just feels very first-generation where everything but the kitchen sink was crammed in to be used as a demo showcase. Or maybe I'm just old. Either way, it's very promising and I am definitely excited to see where AR gaming ends up in the future.
Assumably, Apple's AR-Kit development tools will eventually lead to some amazing things outside of gaming (I know IKEA has an AR app in development that allows you to place their furniture in your home, for example), but right now it's just games and gimicky crap.
Oh yeah... this thing is a phone too! Signal strength seems on-par with my iPhone 6. Call quality is mostly dependent on your carrier, but I'm not hearing any radical improvement over what I had (except when used as a speaker phone, in which case the X trounces my older iPhone).
So far as phones go, my opinion is that there isn't anything to touch the iPhone X. It's powerful, functional, has Apple's refined iOS behind it, and is filled with mind-bogglingly great features highlighting its display, sound, and cameras. My Samsung Galaxy S8 (running Android OS, which I loathe) may seem a bit more futuristic when it comes to design, but is otherwise lacking in comparison... though probably not in any way that's going to convince Android-loving mobile users to switch. I am not 100% convinced that the X is the right upgrade for everybody... the iPhone 8's more rational price point and equatable power/features are more compelling when you consider it's $300 cheaper... but the X is most definitely not a bad choice if you are willing to invest the cash (or simply must have the latest and greatest iPhone available).
My wishlist for future iPhones doesn't have so much to do with the hardware, but the OS choices that run it. If forced to come up with something, however, I'd have to chime in and say that a headphone jack was a stupid thing to axe. I know it takes up space, but it seems ridiculous that a company as tech-savvy and innovative as Apple can't come up with a way to keep it. Odds are that they could... they just didn't want to. That, more than any other example I could come up with, summarizes the joy and hurt of Apple's "We Know Best" philosophy. And yet... in many ways its served them well (as the billions upon billions they make from iPhone profits will testify) even though that makes them a bad fit for some consumers. I've come to embrace it even though I don't always like it.
In the end I'm very happy with my iPhone X even if I'm not happy about what I had to pay for it. At least until the iPhone XI is released, I'm sure.
Posted on December 21st, 2017
There was no way I was going to buy a new iPhone before heading to Antarctica... with my luck, I would have broke it, lost it, got it stolen, or dropped it down a glacier or something. I was going to wait until my tax refund came so I had the money to get an iPhone X but, thanks to Apple's new iPhone Upgrade Program which makes it a monthly cost instead of a one-time cost, I ordered one the day after I returned.
The short version? I love it. With some reservations.
The long version? Better strap yourself in...
I have three phones.
iPhone 6 (purchased October, 2014). My personal phone. It's usually sitting in my jacket pocket, as I mostly use it just for rare phone calls I get. Back in December of last year, I had a problem with my phone "blacking out" and took it to the Apple Store in Portland's Maine Mall. A guy there ran a diagnostic, said that processor-intensive apps can crash the phone or slow down if the battery is old or faulty like mine, and suggested that I set up an appointment to have it replaced. I declined and instead sent it in to iFixit for replacement in February (less cost, same quality repair). So everybody buying into the latest round of anti-Apple hysteria because they "slow down old phones" can just calm their tits. They do it to prevent exactly the problems I was having... and it's obviously not a secret if I was told about it from an Apple Store employee a year ago. With my new battery, the phone runs at full speed and I didn't have to buy a new phone because my iPhone 6 was too slow. I bought the X because I wanted the better cameras and other hardware features. That's it. The iPhone 6 still works perfectly fine.
iPhone 6S (received a little over a year ago). Provided by the company I consult for. This is the phone I use most of the time because it has a better camera than my iPhone 6... and it also has Apple's "3D Touch" technology, which I like. Never had the battery replaced and it runs as fast as it ever did. This phone is never left on a charger. I plug it in during the day at work and rarely is it charged to capacity. I heard this prolongs the battery. It seems to work. It is not being replaced because it is still a great phone and works perfectly well.
Galaxy S8 (received in June). A phone I receive for development which replaced my Galaxy S7. Despite the fact that I loathe the Android operating system, I was genuinely excited to get this model because of the "magical" Samsung Bixby virtual assistant. Touted to be a generation above Apple Siri and Google Assistant, I was enthusiastic about what that might mean. Except the phone didn't come with Bixby... I didn't get it until August... and it wasn't worth the wait because Bixby pretty much sucks. It sucks so bad that Samsung released an update which allows you to disable the stupid Bixby Button on their phones. The actual Galaxy S8 phone is pretty nice. It looks futuristic and cool and the beveled screen is beautiful. The camera is also quite good. Some critical design flaws (like the fingerprint sensor, which is right next to the camera lens on the back... WTF?) don't take away from the fact that this is a great phone. Or would be if not for it being tied to the Android OS. I don't care what people say... it is not just as good as iOS, there is a difference, and I am having none of it. Third party apps that are the same on both platforms feel like a lesser experience on Android, and it's a big enough difference that I would pick my three-year-old iPhone over this new Samsung any day. In fact, I actually do this... every day. The S8 phone usually sits in a drawer. I rarely use it unless I have to.
And so... enter the iPhone X.
Which will have to wait until tomorrow, because I still have some unpacking to do. I worry that if I don't act now my smelly suitcase might become sentient and destroys us all!
Posted on September 13th, 2017
Apple started off their September Event video with sweeping views of the brand new Apple Campus, otherwise known as "The Donut" or "The Spaceship" or "The Mothership." It is, of course, a structure of sublime beauty. Then, as The Beatles' All You Need is Love plays, we fly over to the equally sublime Steve Jobs Theater as attendees file in.
Then, in a moment that tore at my heart, the voice of my personal hero fills the theater that bears his name. And, just far a moment, it feels like he never left us. Then Tim Cook walks out with tribute to Jobs and the moment is gone. The Keynote begins.
I could have watched an entire keynote devoted to Apple's new headquarters but, alas, all we get is a fleeting look. Happily, Tim announced that there will be a visitor's center! I will, of course, be paying a visit one of these days. An Apple Whore's life isn't complete until you've made a pilgrimage to The Mother Ship...
Aerial drone footage by Matthew Roberts
Oh gag me. Apple doesn't call their major stores "stores" any more... they are "town squares." I mean, yeah... they are beautiful spaces where people can gather but, come on. These are monuments to retail, not the cities they reside in.
There is no doubt that Apple "town squares" are beautiful inside and out... architectural marvels that capture my imagination like no other stores can. And the plans they announced for Paris and Milan are borderline destination-worthy, which is remarkable. These are STORES!
APPLE WATCH 3
Apple finally cracked the smart-watch after a stream of other companies tried and failed. And their efforts paid off... they now have the #1 watch in the world. What's interesting is how Apple has changed this space. Their smartwatch is more of a lifestyle piece than a tech toy, and they continue to push into fitness and health in a way that makes their wares a compelling purchase.
The big announcement from this segment is that the new Apple Watch 3 now has a cellular radio, so it doesn't require a phone to access the internet. Dick Tracy has just become real, y'all. You can make/answer calls... send texts... even stream Apple Music... all without a phone. On my AT&T plan, this functionality costs an additional $10 a month. I guess that's a fair price... though I don't picture using $10 worth of data every month, as my iPhone will still get the lion's share of my usage.
I would love an Apple Watch 3. It's a magnificent piece of tech and, given my elevated heart rate, would probably be a benefit to my health. And yet... I have small wrists. Even the small Apple Watch is a massive clunker on me. What I want... what I really really want... is an thinner Apple Watch. I'd sacrifice some features (like the cellular radio) just to have something I can actually wear comfortably.
The price of admission for Series 3 with cellular is $399. Given that the watch is "darn close to magic," this seems like a bargain. Available September 22.
APPLE TV 4K HDR
I have many frustrations with Apple. One of the biggest is Apple TV. The remote is shit. The user interface is shit. Streaming my Apple purchases (when I can even get it to work) has quality that is shit. And if my Apple TV struggles to stream HD content now, what hope is there that a massive 4K stream is going to get through? What's so frustrating is that the Apple TV apps FOR EVERY OTHER STREAMING SERVICE is fantastic. I never have a problem with Netflix, ABC, NBC, CBS, YouTube, Showtime, HBO, Starz... ANY of them. Just my Apple iTunes purchases. How messed up is that?
Assuming I could actually get the Apple TV 4K HDR to stream shit (I have a 4K HDR television), it seems like a great device. Mainly because Apple will automatically upgrade your HD purchases to 4K HDR at no charge. If only they would come up with a better remote.
My every day phone is an iPhone 6. It's a little slow to initiate with the newer OS and apps, but it works perfectly fine, and I didn't feel the need to upgrade to an iPhone 7. Yeah... 3D touch is cool and the nicer camera (especially on the 7+) would be great... but it wasn't worth the cost. Even once my battery started cutting out at 10%.
But it's time to upgrade, and the iPhone 8 looks like a great choice. FINALLY stereo speakers (in both orientations!). The A11 Bionic chip would be a quantum leap from the A8 chip in my current phone. The camera looks incredible, but I'm disappointed that the dual-lens model with "portrait mode" is only available in the giant iPhone again. I don't want to lug around a giant phone. And while I'm not a big "augmented reality" fan yet, I have to say, the AR star map app they showed off is right up my alley. Needless to say, wireless charging is a much-coveted feature. No more plugging/unplugging a power cord... just slap it on a charging mat. Kind of odd that Apple took so long to get here when other companies have had wireless charging for a while. Available September 22.
Let me just start by saying ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS?!?? Boy, that's a lot of money for a phone. But is it worth it?
The bullet points...
I am not going to buy a new phone until I get back from Antarctica. Heaven only knows how I'd end up destroying the thing while on that trip. No, my new iPhone won't be coming until tax refund time next year. Whether I will end up spending $300 more for the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 is anybody's guess. I mean... ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A PHONE?!? But, then again, I've paid $300 for a pocket camera that's not as good as the camera in iPhone X, so that's something to take under consideration. In the end, I compare my iPhone to a mattress. With a mattress, it makes sense to buy the best one you can afford since a huge portion of your life is going to be spent sleeping on it. The iPhone is no different. It's easily the most-used piece technology I own. It's also the most valuable considering what I can do with it while not in front of a computer. Especially when traveling. Ideally, I'd like to spend no more than $400 on a phone. That seems a good price point to me, and what I'm comfortable forking over. But, given how important the iPhone has become in my life, I think I can get comfortable being uncomfortable.
As to how uncomfortable? Probably iPhone X uncomfortable. I mean, that camera...