If you have noticed over the past couple of weeks I have been posting iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Availability every night (last night’s post). I am foregoing that tonight to bring your attention to a TeeSpring campaign that Samantha Bielefeld is conducting.
The campaign is Rose Gold for October. (A full explanation can be found here) October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in hopes to bring more attention to the cause she is donating all proceeds from this campaign to A Silver Lining Foundation. A Silver Lining Foundation is a non-profit to help fund cost-free mammograms.
The T-shirt is quite nerdy, but simultaneously not super-nerdy, so even those who do not think of themselves as a nerd will be able to wear the t-shirt without feeling strange. The graphic on the t-shirt is designed to mimic an iOS application icon. As expected, the graphic is Pink. There are four different t-shirt colors: Black, Cranberry, Coffee, and Oatmeal.
If you can, buy a t-shirt, or even donate to the foundation. It truly is a worthwhile cause, plus you get a t-shirt out of the deal. The campaign runs until October 22nd, and it is a limited run print. So get yours now.
As is the case in the previous years, I have written an e-book about OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
It is available now fon Apple’s iBooks Store in both iBooks format as well as ePub format. You can also purchase it from Amazon if you prefer using the Kindle app or e-reader. The cost for the e-book is $3.99.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan for Users, Administrators and Developers covers many of the new features within the operating system. For users, we cover the new Split View, the changes to the cursor, the new San Francisco Font, changes to Spotlight, upgraded Notes, improvements to Apple Maps, and the new features of Safari.
For administrators we cover the big changes to application assignment and other changes to Profile Manager, the overall look, some file sharing changes, the improved softwareupdate command, the implications of security changes, and built-in application versions.
For developers we look at the new Apple Developer account, Xcode 7, the new frameworks like Metal, GameplayKit, and Network Extension. We also look at the changes developers need to make for security, Swift 2, changes to Objective-C and CloudKitJS.
iOS 9 for users and developers covers new features in iOS 9. This includes On Demand Resources, App Thinning, and storage usage. Other changes include Keyboard changes, improvements to Search, changes to the way News is handled. Additionally, updates to Siri, new features on Notes, Multitasking, System Fonts, updates in Security and file management. One of the biggest changes is Safari, Apple Maps, and even improvements to the Apple Watch.
The book comes is available in two versions from Apple. The first is ePub and the second is the iBooks edition. Both are priced at $3.99.
You can also purchase it from Amazon as well for $3.99.
Since the announcement of content blockers in iOS 9, many have speculated what impact it would have on ads on the web as well as the tracking of users that has been present on the web for the last decade and a half.
One of the primary functions for loading third-party content are analytic, and tracking, sites. These analytics engines, while performing analytics for the site, also gather information about the users. The information gathered by these analytics firms include things that users would expect, like the HTTP request, the user’s IP Address, and web browser. However, what analytic firms also collect include screen resolution and many other items. This is done via a tracking cookie.
The issue with this setup is that if many sites use the same centrally-hosted analytics engine, that analytics site can correlate, through the tracking cookie, all of the information about that individual and create a full picture of the user. This could be more than just which sites are visited, but what links are clicked on, which ads have been seen and any number of other measurements. Many of these analytics site are ones that provide free services. When this occurs, the visitors of the sites that have opted to use the analytics engine become the product.
One of the problems on the web is that if people have resigned themselves that ads are inevitable, they do so in hopes of being served relevant ads. Yet, in order to get the relevant ads users must be tracked. The problem, for many, is not that users are being tracked but the fact that information that is tracked is being sold to advertisers. An additional problem is that it only takes a small amount of information to truly be able to uniquely identify someone. If it were only the websites doing the tracking, many individuals would not have a problem with this arrangement.
The reason that most would not have a problem with this arrangement is that when you visit a website, and do not pay for the content on that website, it is understandable that a website would want to know who is visiting the site, as well as keeping some basic information about the individuals who visit the site.
One of the things that I have been pondering, particularly since the iOS 9 content blocker fiasco is what alternatives to Google Analytics there are. I did some searching, tried a couple of different free and open source packages, and ultimately I have decided on trying out Open Web Analytics.
Open Web Analytics will work as a standalone product or as a plugin for WordPress. With Open Analytics, none of the information leaves the site where the product is installed. It is not sent off to third-party aggregation sites where it will be analyzed. Since Sunday morning I have been running both Open Web Analytics and Google Analytics. I am running both in tandem to be able to to see how close the two are in relation to number of visitors, and individual page counts. It will likely not be long before I decide to turn off Google Analytics entirely.
There area a myriad of reasons behind this change. The first is that I cannot, in good conscience, allow readers of my site to be unwillingly forced to use Google Analytics and be subjected to unnecessary third-party tracking and aggregation. While yes, the content is free, it still does not feel right to have visitors be tracked in this manner.
The second is the speed of the site. With any third-party loading of content, inevitably the site is slowed, even if it is just milliseconds, it is slowness. I would like to have a responsive website, in both styling as well as load times. The best way to do this is to eliminate as much of the third-party items that load on a site.
It may be that I am an idealist, but I would like to think that more independent websites would choose to run their own analytics. I know it is not possible for all sites to do so, but it would be nice to see this change occur on those that can.
I would think that if enough sites opted out of using Google and other analytics aggregators, that maybe these companies would start realizing that users are not satisfied with the current state of tracking and change their practices. Particularly in Google’s case, if ad revenue starts to take a major hit due to content blockers, it may open their eyes a bit. Sadly, I am not optimistic that this will help in any meaningful way.
Back in December of 2013, I wrote on The Tech Scoop about a debacle I had with Google Adsense. To summarize the issue, a couple family members clicked on a few ads, and Google thought this was fraud and thus violated Google’s terms of service. So, they blocked my account.
After filling out their appeal form indicating what happened, and being completely truthful, Google decided that I did not do enough to “mitigate the issue” and permanently banned my account from the Google Adsense program. Being banned from Google Adsense has some other ramifications. One of those is that since that account was disabled, I cannot monetize any of my YouTube Videos. I only found out this latter fact yesterday when I was uploading a video and looked into possibly adding ads to them.
Similarly, with all of the talk about iOS content blockers and the state of advertising on the web, I have been thinking about the issues with web advertising. Besides the increase in the number of ads, ads that take over an entire page, and even interstitial ads, and the horrible tracking. There is another issue that I have been thinking about, and one that has not been mentioned in what I have read. That issue is the lack of alternatives to the big players Google Adsense.
There are a number of other companies that may be available, but these are usually invite only. For sites like mine that do not get a lot of traffic, there really are no other viable alternatives. I looked into Microsoft’s Advertising and applied, but they rejected my applications. There are some companies, like The Deck that do not use advertising to track users across the web.
Instead, they pay up-front for the number of impressions. One this is exhausted, that is it. They only thing they track is the number of impressions. They do not have any personally identifiable information about the users who view the sites on which the ads are shown.
There is a certain segment of the population that is completely against ads. The current wisdom is that approximately 15 percent of web users employ an ad or tracking blocker. However, I do think as though a vast majority of internet users are not opposed to ads, but are opposed to the insidious tracking that has occurred and continues to occur. I, like many, understand that advertising is a necessary fact of the Internet, and society in general.
One of the things that I have not seen is a real alternative to the existing advertising model. What I would like to see is a service that caters to smaller sites. One that does not track its users, and models itself on sites like The Deck, although maybe not necessarily technology focused.
If advertisers are willing to make meaningful changes, something will have to be done in order to allow users to trust advertising companies again. It will be a tough and long road to get advertising aggregators back in the good graces of web users.
During my review of the iPhone 6s Plus, one of the things I needed to do was export the 4K video that I shot on my iPhone 6s Plus.
Since I have the iCloud Photos Library option enabled all of my media is automatically copied to my Photos library on all of my devices, including the 4K videos. Normally, when I export videos or images, I can simply drag the video or photos out of Photos and into a folder where I want to store them.
However, when you do this with a 4K video, the 4K video is not actually exported. There were two things that gave it away. The first was when I uploaded the 4K video to YouTube, it said something along the lines of “The audio and video may not be synchronized”. The second thing I noticed is that when I uploaded the 4K video, and it was done processing, it would not display the 4K video. So I began investigating and began exporting the necessary videos again.
After investigating, I realized that in fact none of the videos that are exported are their original size. As an example, when I dragged the 4K video out of Photos and into a folder, the size of the file was 191.2 MB. Similarly, when dragging out a 1080p video, it was 120.8 MB. Contrastingly, any photos that are exported by dragging do come out as originals.
The image below shows what the size should be for the 4K video that was 1 minute and 1 second long. The second image below is for what the 1080p video size should be.
The curious aspect to exports is that the size of the files are no where near the originals, which were all shot in their native resolutions.
In order to export an original video, perform these steps:
Locate the video(s) to export.
Click on File.
Click on Export.
Click on “Export Unmodified Original for videos”.
A dialog will appear to allow you to set specific options.
Click on “Export”.
A ‘Save’ dialog will appear and ask you which folder you would like export to.
Click on “Export Originals”.
This process will export the original files from Photos. If they are locally stored, it will be a quick process. If they are not locally available, then they should be downloaded and saved to your specified location. Once exported, you can rename the files.
There is another option for exporting videos.
I thought I would share these steps so that it could save others the hassle of having to figure out why Photos is not exporting their 4K video properly from Photos. As a note, I even tried exporting uing Photos 1.2 in beta 2 of OS X 10.11.1 El Capitan, and this behavior persists. I am hoping that Apple will fix this in a future version of Photos on OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
It has become my custom to purchase a new iPhone every year. This began in 2008 when I chose to purchase an iPhone 3G. I was able to purchase each phone at a subsidy through my carrier, AT&T, up through the iPhone 5s, where I had received a partial subsidy for my phone. At one point I totaled up the amount I have spent on iPhones over the years, I fear doing so that again.
Last year for the iPhone 6 Plus, and again this year for the iPhone 6s Plus, I purchased my phone at full price, with no subsidy. I opted to do this last year because I was tired of going through the “2 year” commitments. In order to keep customers, AT&T was offering iPhone owners a full discounted phone subsidy. Last year I chose the 64GB Space Gray iPhone 6 Plus, and this year, as to nobody’s surprise, I opted to go with the Space Gray iPhone 6s Plus, but I wanted to get the 128GB instead of 64GB. The reason I decided to with the 128GB model is due to 4K Video.
After having used the phone for about nine days now. I thought I would post my thoughts about the upgraded iPhone 6s Plus. Some may question how someone can review a product they have only owned for a week. I would argue that having owned an iPhone since the beginning, I am well versed in their functions and being an ardent follower of Apple news, I know what is new for this model. Apple is not a company that radically changes products from year to year. While they may the physical shell and improve components, the general usage of the iPhone has remained consistent since its introduction in 2007. Now, let us look at the new features in the iPhone 6s Plus.
One of the biggest changes for the order process this year was that it went quite smoothly. Since the iPhone 3G ordering the Apple website has been known to go down or have problems with the carriers. There was one that occurred both last year, and again this year, the website took longer to come back up and the Apple Store application came up first.
This year I ordered through the Apple Store application just after the app returned. The process was very smooth. This year I was able to get through without any issues and ordered my phone. Later in the day, I ordered a case separately. As one would expect, the case a couple days before the phone.
A couple minutes after I finished ordering my iPhone 6s Plus, the website had just come up. I even had my confirmation email before the website came up.
One of the more innovative features of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is 3D Touch. 3D Touch is a new way to allow interactions on an iPhone. 3D Touch requires you to actually press down on the screen. This gesture is counter-intuitive for those who have used an iPhone for a while, as pressing on a screen hard will create a ripple effect and if pressed with enough force, may actually break the screen. It appears as though Apple has been able to mitigate this with the new glass that is used by the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
On episode 59 of Connected on Relay, Myke Hurley discussed some repetitive stress injury issues that may arise from repeatedly pressing on the screen. There is an option for changing how hard a user must press in order to activate 3D Touch. Perform the following steps to change the sensitivity:
Go to “Settings”
Tap on “General”
Tap on “Accessibility”
Scroll down to “3D Touch”
Tap on “3D Touch”
Adjust the sensitivity by moving the slider to select your desired sensitivity.
Light will make it easier to activate a 3D Touch action. Firm will mean that you must press harder to activate it. Medium is the default setting.
Within this screen there is a picture. This picture allows you to “Peek” and “Pop” to test how firmly you must press to activate the 3D Touch options.
Alternatively, you can disable 3D Touch entirely, by tapping on the switch, and flipping it to off. As of right now, many third-party developers have not yet implemented 3D Touch within their applications. Even though many third party developers have not implemented 3D Touch, many of Apple’s built-in applications have done so.
Peek and Pop
Peek and Pop are two new gestures that can only be done with 3D Touch. Both of these gestures are dependent upon developers implementing these features, so they will application specific. To enable a peek gesture, you can lightly press down. When you perform this action, a popup, or other visual change, will occur.
An example of this is within Safari in iOS 9. When you perform a Peek gesture on a link, it will display that link in a window. Much like the picture below.
Once you are in a “Peek” view, you will be able to swipe up. As shown in the picture below, Safari will allow you to perform a few actions. These actions are “Add to Readying List”, “Open in Background”, and “Copy URL”. If you continue to press down, the view will Pop into place. Gestures like swiping to go back will work.
3D Touch will allow users to quickly get to common features directly from the home screen. Peek and Pop will allow users to quickly perform actions and view content without needing to fully open up the content and then switch back to the application that they were using. Instead, they will be able to view content in context and quickly get back to what they were previously doing.
One of the aspects of the iPhone that Apple pride’s itself on is the camera. With the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Apple has vastly improved the cameras. Photographer Lisa Bettany has taken1 photos with every iPhone Apple has released. Let us start with a new type of photo, Live Photos.
One of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus specific features is Live Photos. There is a dedicated button for Live Photos within the Camera app. When someone takes a Live Photo, the photo will take 1.5 seconds before and after the picture. In essence it is a video that is shot at 12 frames per second, to give the illusion of a moving photo. Live Photos can be used as the background or on the home screen of an iPhone or even an Apple Watch.
Even though the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are the only two phones capable of creating Live Photos, any iOS 9 or OS X 10.11 El Capitan device can display them. So, if someone you know takes a Live Photo that you like, they should be able to send it to you without any issue.
Apple has included a rear-facing camera with every iPhone, including the original 2007 iPhone. However, it was not until the fourth iPhone, the iPhone 4, that Apple brought a front-facing camera to the iPhones. The front-facing camera has always lagged behind the rear camera. However, this year with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the camera has received a vast upgrade.
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus now sports a 5 Megapixel camera. This is up from the 1.2 Megapixels cameras in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The new FaceTime camera can now also detect faces. This is an important aspect for those who want to take selfies. With face detection the FaceTime camera will now be able to focus on the faces, even if the camera is a bit off-center.
The second big feature of the FaceTime Camera is the Retina Flash. One of the best ways to improve many photos is to use a flash. While Apple could add a flash to the face of an iPhone, there is already a flash available, the screen. Retina Flash utilizes the screen and sets the color temperature at one that will provide the best color for the picture being taken. The Retina Flash combined with face detection and a better quality camera, should help people take even better selfies.
The biggest change for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, in terms of hardware is the camera. The new iPhones are able to record in 4K video. The exact resolution is 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels tall. 4K televisions have been gaining popularity, and will continue to do so particularly as prices for the sets continue to drop.
The curious aspect to this is that there is currently only one device that is capable of displaying 4K video at its native resolution of 3840 by 2160. That computer is the iMac 5k with Retina that Apple introduced in October of 2014. Even Apple’s newly announced 4th generation Apple TV is still at 1080p for output.
While recording 4K video, there may be times when you want to take a single picture. This can be accomplished with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. While recording 4K video, you can take an 8 Megapixel picture and continue to record video. The resolution of the 8MP photos taken while recording 4K video is the same, 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels. Below are two videos, both taken at 1080p.
iPhone 6s Plus:
iPhone 6 Plus:
In addition to the better video camera capabilities, the still camera also received a significant upgrade. It now sports a 12 megapixel camera. The still images taken by the 12 Megapixel camera is 4032 pixels by 3024 pixels. Besides just being a resolution increase, the new camera also has improved color detection. This is most prevalent in the two videos above.
One of the things that some may notice, particularly if they owned an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, is that the weight of the iPhone 6s Plus seems to be heavier than the previous models. This is counter-intuitive towards Apple’s usual modus operandi. Typically, Apple likes to go thinner and lighter. There are a couple of reasons why this iPhone is heavier.
The first is the new aluminum that is being used. Instead of using the aluminum that was present in the iPhone 6 Plus, they have opted to use a new 7000 series custom aluminum alloy. This is the same 7000 series aluminum used in the Stainless Steel Sport models of the Apple Watch.
The second reason is the new touch screen. In order to get the 3D Touch to operate properly, the screen had to become a bit heavier. Even with these two elements being a bit beefier, the total increase in weight is about 20 grams or 0.7 ounces.
When Apple introduced the iPhone 5s, they introduced a couple of new features, a 64-bit processor with the A7, and Touch ID. The iPhone 6s Plus is Apple’s third iPhone with Touch ID. Touch ID has been upgraded to Touch ID 2. Touch ID 2 is significantly faster than the previous version. It is still constructed of the same sapphire crystal cover with a matching stainless steel ring.
A faster Touch ID sensor will result in being able to unlock your iPhone 6s quicker, but will also allow faster purchasing of applications and unlocking of applications that use your fingerprint information for authentication.
S for Speed
The ‘S’ within the original 3GS meant speed, at least according to Apple at the time. As has been the case with all of the ‘S’ generation models of the iPhone, the ‘S’ brings significant speed increases over the previous versions. The speed in this version, besides Touch ID, is primarily created by the amount of memory within the phone. There are now 2GB of memory in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. This memory increase will allow for less information needing to be cleaned out, resulting in a better overall experience. The most noticeable is within Safari where open tabs will not need to be reloaded as often.
The second new item attributing to the speed increase is the new A9 processor. This processor is up to twice as fast as the previous versions, according to Apple. During my Geekbench tests, the iPhone 6s Plus was approximately 55.4% faster in single-core operations and 53.8% faster in multi-core operations. This speed is definitely noticeable. As shown below in the GeekBench 3 tests, The iPhone 6s Plus is approximately 50% faster than the iPhone 6 Plus.
One of the biggest changes with the iPhone 6s Plus is the always-on “Hey Siri” functionality. This is accomplished by the Motion Co-processor, the M9, being integrated into the same package as the primary CPU, the A9. With this change, there is always enough power going to the processors to allow for the microphone to always be listening for the phrase “Hey Siri”.
Apple bought the Siri application in 2010. Since then they have been steadily improving its capabilities that, thus far, culminate in all of the new search options within iOS 9. I am not one who typically uses Siri for much interaction. I do not care about sports scores, nor making a reservation at a restaurant. These just are not typical tasks I perform. The function I mostly perform with Siri is identifying a song while I am watching a movie.
The benefit of saying “Hey Siri” instead of having to hold down the home button will make it that much easier to perform whatever function you need. Combine this with “Hey Siri” training (found in Settings-> General-> Siri -> “Allow ‘Hey Siri’) so that your phone will not be activated as easily by someone else saying “Hey Siri” and the always on nature will change interactions for some users.
The iPhone 6s Plus is a solid upgrade, both in terms of physical feel as well as the new features. The addition of 3D Touch will add a new dimension, and method, to interactions you already perform on your iPhone. #D Touch will enable some new abilities, once implemented by developers. Peek and Pop will allow users to save some time and remain within an application. The additional memory and new A9 processor will provide a faster response. The biggest selling feature, in my mind, is the new camera. Whether you use the 4K video features or not, the upgraded camera will give users better pictures. Live Photos will actually add a new facet to the way that photos are taken and shown. If you have a phone older than iPhone 5s, it is a worthwhile upgrade, even if you just get the iPhone 6s and not the iPhone 6s Plus.