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After being blamed for the death of Harvey Dent and going from hero to villain, Batman disappears. Things change with the arrival of a mysterious thief, catwoman, and Bane, a masked terrorist, who make Batman abandon his forced exile.

iPhone

  • iPhone X Review: Screen

    Normally I do a single large review of Apple devices. For products like the Apple TV, where the updates that have been made are minimal, and this approach makes sense. With the iPhone X, however, there are so many new features and so many aspects that have changed. To keep it to a short review would not be giving the iPhone X its due. With this information, my iPhone X review requires a different approach. To that end, my iPhone X review will be broken into multiple reviews with each focusing on a different feature. The first of the is about the screen, but before we delve into that, let us briefly look at the models of the iPhone that have existed.

    iPhone Models

    The iPhone X is not the tenth iPhone as one might expect. In fact it is actually the thirteenth iPhone model. That is is if you count the “Plus” models as the same as the standard sized phones. If you do count the Plus-sized models as their own, then the iPhone X is the seventeenth iPhone. In counting it as the seventeenth iPhone, that does not include the differentiation between the GSM and CDMA versions, nor does it count the various colors. The actual list of iPhones is as follows:

    • iPhone
    • iPhone 3G
    • iPhone 3GS
    • iPhone 4
    • iPhone 4s
    • iPhone 5
    • iPhone 5s
    • iPhone 5c
    • iPhone 6
    • iPhone 6 Plus
    • iPhone 6s
    • iPhone 6s Plus
    • iPhone 7
    • iPhone 7 Plus
    • iPhone 8
    • iPhone 8 Plus
    • iPhone X

    Each iPhone model has improved on the past ones and has brought its own new features to the iPhone lineup. The most common piece that is interacted with on each iPhone is indeed the screen.

    Screen History

    The history of smartphone screens is as varied as the history of computer screens. Different technologies have been used throughout the year. The iPhone has only used glass for the screen, in particular gorilla glass by Corning. Besides being the toughest glass available, according to Corning, it has helped shape the iPhone into what it has become.

    The underlying technology for the iPhone has been LCD. The first three iPhones, the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS, all had 480 pixels by 320 pixel screens. This was the exact number of pixels on each screen. The screen was upgraded to a 960 by 640 pixel screen with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s increased the screen resolution to 640 pixels by 1136 pixels; making it slightly taller.

    The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus changed the sizing again, to two entirely new screen sizes, 1334 pixels by 750 pixels for the iPhone 6; and for the first time on an iPhone a true 1080p screen, at 1920 by 1080 pixels, with the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus and subsequent releases, the iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 8 Plus, assets needed to be at 3x resolution. These models then scaled these assets to accommodate the actual size of the screen.

    This is where the iPhone stood, until the release of the iPhone X.

    The Iconic Features

    While the iPhone was definitely not the first smartphone on the market, far from it. However, the original iPhone, when it was unveiled in January of 2007, was shown as the first smartphone to go screen only with no physical keyboard. While there were definitely those who doubted that the iPhone would sell and last, they were wrong. Beyond becoming a best selling series of phone as well as the most profitable, the original iPhone became the iconic representation of a smart phone. The iconic features included the square screen, rounded corners on bezel, and the home button.

    The size of the iPhone remained unchanged until the iPhone 5, when the screen size went to a 4-inch screen, up from the iconic 3.5-inch screen. The size was the same for the 5s, but changed with the introduction of the next iPhone, the iPhone 6 and its larger version the iPhone 6 Plus. These two sizes then became the iconic smart phone depictions.

    This definition of an iPhone has been updated again with the iPhone X. The iPhone X has removed the home button and significantly reduced the front bezels. The entire front is now glass with no home button. The removal of the home button changes not only the look and feel, but also the interaction methodology.

    iPhone X Screen

    Besides the edge-to-edge bezel of the iPhone X, there is another change to the iPhone X screen, it is an OLED display. Apple calls the screen on the iPhone X a “Super Retina HD” display. One of the benefits of OLED is that the blacks that are shown can be even darker than those on traditional LEDs. What this means is that when you see a pixel, or set of pixels, that is black in color it is a bit darker than a black pixel on an LED screen. The same goes for white pixels as well. Ultimately, this means that the colors that can be shown can be even better.

    One of Apple’s other products, the Apple Watch, has had an OLED screen since its first model. One of the recommendations from Apple is to make sure that the background of any watchOS app is black. This is not only done to make watchOS applications aesthetically pleasing but it is also for an additional reason.

    The benefits of OLED over traditional LED includes lower power usage, versus traditional LEDs. OLED is able to only turn on the individual pixels as they are needed. By not always having to power on every pixel, battery life can be extended. While nobody will argue that any iPhone that can get better battery life is a good thing, having more battery life on a wearable is even more important.

    There is another feature that is new to the iPhone that has not been in an iPhone before, but is present on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the 2nd generation iPad Pro. That feature is High Dynamic Range, or HDR. HDR allows colors to be go beyond the traditional limits and uses a wider color gamut to make colors even more rich and vibrant. While HDR is easily noticeable with photos and with video. If you have a movie that support HDR, or Dolby Vision, you will be able to watch it with the enhanced colors.

    The Notch

    One of the most prominent features of the iPhone X, and the one that most users immediately notice, is the notch. The notch houses a number of sensors, which will all be discussed in a later article. But the notch itself is absolutely new. Never before has an iPhone had an edge to edge display, and one of the decisions that Apple had to make was how to be able to get everything onto the screen of the iPhone X. One possible way was to just have a black strip above the screen, but taking this route would create an asymmetrical and would wholly out of place.

    There is no doubt that Apple attempted to get the sensors that occupy the notch, under the screen. However, Apple was not able to accomplish this, like they may have liked. Instead, the notch creates two areas where there is some areas for controls.

    The notch does create a very distinct and unique look to the iPhone. It is very likely, that in a matter of time, when someone thinks of an iPhone, they will think of the screen design of the iPhone X.

    Screen Size

    With the iPhone X being effectively sans-bezel, the physical size of the iPhone X is defined by the size of the screen. On the iPhone X the screen is 5.8-inches diagonally. This is three tenths of an inch larger than the screen on the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8. The iPhone X is closer in size to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, much much closer.

    The iPhone 8 is 5.45 inches tall by 2.65 inches wide. The iPhone X is 5.65 inches tall by 2.79 inches wide. If you take the size of the iPhone X and compare to the iPhone 8 Plus, at 6.24 inches tall by 3.07 inches wide, you will notice that it approximately 18.8 percent smaller. This is a significant decrease in size. This size fits in between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus sizes.

    There is one last aspect to the screen that should be noted. The actual screen itself is different in one last way. The screen itself has rounded corners. Each of the previous iPhones has had rounded glass, but each of the previous screens has been square. The rounded aspects were the bezels and the glass was the same radius as the corners of the iPhone.

    With the iPhone X, this is the first time that the screen itself has been rounded. The new design introduces some new design challenges for developers. This aspect of the screen will be covered in another article.

    Final Thoughts on the iPhone X Screen

    The iPhone X’s screen is the best screen that Apple has ever put on any of their products. The OLED display on the iPhone X really does make a huge difference when using the phone. The inclusion of HDR is absolutely noticeable if you are coming from a previous iPhone, and is seen particularly well when watching an HDR-enabled video.

    The iPhone X’s screen size provides the largest screen on any iPhone, up to this point, and all in a slightly larger package than the iPhone 8. This will not be much of an adjustment for those who are accustom to the mid-sized phones of the iPhone 8, but may be an adjustment for those who have been using a plus-sized phone. There will be more about that in a later article. The next topic to be covered is a new feature that is exclusive to the iPhone X, for now. That feature is Face ID.

  • iPhone X: Initial Thoughts

    I do not normally post initial thoughts on products. However, the iPhone X is worth of a first look. It has been just over 24 hours since I got my iPhone X and here are my thoughts.

    The Notch

    The feature that gives the iPhone X its distinct look is the notch at the top of the iPhone. You may think that you will always notice the notch. In my experience, you do not really notice it, unless you are watching a video full screen and it stretches over the notch.

    The Size

    The size of the iPhone X is 5.8 inches, this slightly larger than the 6 Plus, 6s Plus, or 7 Plus screen. Yet, even with the screen being bigger, the actual size of the device is just a bit taller and bit wider than the smaller iPhone 6, 6s, and 7. If you have been part of the “Plus” club, it could be a bit of an adjustment.

    App Compatibility

    One of the possible issues with a change in screen size is that developers must adapt their apps. In order to not have apps look completely horrible, Apple will put black bars at the top and bottom of applications so that the app is not obscured by the notch. Developers will need to update their apps to accommodate for the notch.

    Face ID

    The iPhone X does not have a physical home button. As part of the home button itself, is the Touch ID sensor ring. And without any sensor, you need another form of biometric authentication. This is where Face ID comes into play. In my short experience, I have not had Face ID fail, except when it cannot see my face.

    So Far

    So far, I am liking the iPhone X. Granted, it has only been 24 hours, but so far so good. I will do a full review of it in due course, but I really want to put it through its paces before doing so.

  • Upgrading to a new iPhone

    From time to time people need to upgrade their devices. One of those times is shortly after Apple’s Fall Event, which is where we are now. When it comes to upgrade an iPhone, it can be somewhat straightforward, depending on what type of backup you have. There are two different backup possibilities. The two options are iTunes and iCloud.

    iTunes has been the stalwart for music and has been used by millions of people for backing up their iOS devices. One of the benefits of backing up iTunes is that you can encrypt your backups. The benefit of encrypting your backup is that absolutely everything on your iPhone can be completely restored. This includes any health data that is on your iPhone.

    If you backup via iCloud, your health data will not be backed up nor restored. This can pose an issue for some users. This changes slightly with iOS 11. Before we delve into that, let us look at the procedure for backing up and restoring a device running iOS 10.

    Restoring an iOS Device with iOS 10.

    When you restore an iPhone under iOS 10, there are a number of items that are backed up, whether it is to iCloud or to a computer itself. The items that are backed up to iCloud are:

    • App data
    • Apple Watch backups
    • Call history
    • Device settings
    • Health data
    • HomeKit configuration
    • Home screen and app organization
    • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages
    • Photos and videos on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
    • Purchase history from Apple services, like your music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books
    • Ringtones
    • Visual Voicemail password (requires the SIM card that was in use during backup)

    The one item that is not backed up under iOS 10 is your health data. In order to provide some protection for your health data, it is not backed up via iCloud. In order to backup your health data, you need to use iTunes.

    Backing up with iTunes

    Our phones have some of the most important data that we own. This could include messages, emails, pictures, and countless other pieces of media. With such a significant amount of information, being able to get it back is important. One of the ways to do this is to store as much in “the cloud” as possible. This also comes with some possible downsides. What is you cannot access the service storing the information? What if the service disappears? What if you lose your device or it needs to be replaced? This is why having a good local backup is important.

    One of the functions of iTunes that many users utilize is the ability to backup your iPhone. One of the capabilities of iTunes is to enhance your backups by encrypting them. Encrypting an iPhone backup is not a difficult proposition, however it does come with some responsibility. An encrypted iTunes backup is similar to a regular iTunes backup, but there is a password that is used to encrypt the iTunes backup. The downside with an encrypted backup is that you cannot restore an encrypted backup without the password.

    It is recommended that you select a password that is secure and it is best to write the password down and store it in a secure place. You can also have your macOS Keychain remember the password, but it is always a good idea to have it backed up just in case something happens to your Mac.

    The benefit of an encrypted backup is twofold. First, you will be able to backup all of your health data. This means any information that has been transmitted from your electronic health monitoring devices, such as a pacemaker, glucose monitors, or Apple Watch will be backed up. The second benefit is that no one can easily see what is in your encrypted backup, not without the password.

    Upgrading an iPhone with a paired Apple Watch

    Having an Apple Watch paired to your iPhone can make things a bit trickier when it comes to upgrading your iPhone. Your Apple Watch data should be automatically backed up. Having had an Apple Watch since it was released in 2015, I have been through the upgrade process a couple of times now. Here is the procedure that I use. Some of it may not be necessary, but I prefer to be safe than sorry.

    1. Backup my iPhone using and encrypted backup in iTunes using a lightning cable. The important piece of information to verify is that the last backup date and time are recent.
    2. Unpair the old Apple Watch so it will backup to the iPhone.
    3. Perform another encrypted backup of my iPhone in iTunes, again making sure the date and time are current.
    4. Restore the new iPhone from this latest backup.
    5. Pair the new Apple Watch to the new iPhone.

    I suggest using a lightning cable because the process is much faster than doing a backup over Wi-Fi. This is not necessary possible with iCloud, but having a backup is definitely an important aspect to owning a iPhone.

    The new Apple Watch should now be paired to the new iPhone. It will take a while for this to occur, particularly since there are two encrypted backups of the iPhone. The use of a lightning cable does make this go much faster than syncing via Wifi; hence why I always use the cable.

    With iOS 11, this may not be necessary anymore, since the Health Data should be encrypted and backed up to iCloud. So before you upgrade to a new iPhone, upgrade to iOS 11 and then perform a backup. This backup should include your health data, which will make restoring to your new phone even easier.

    An additional feature of iOS 11 is the new “Quick Setup” feature. Quick Setup will allow you to use an existing iOS 11 device to quickly setup your new iOS device. This means that you will be able to transfer your Apple account settings from one phone to another, which then means you will be able to more quickly restore your new iOS device from your iCloud backup.

    I know for me, I will still be using the steps outlined above, mostly since I know they will work like I want them to. Additionally, my new iPhone will have all of the same settings as my old iPhone, which makes things much easier.

    Final Thoughts

    No matter when you upgrade your iPhone, you should make sure that you have a backup. It does not really matter, at least with iOS 11, if that is an iCloud backup or a backup with iTunes. If you do not have an Apple Watch, upgrading an iPhone is pretty straight-forward. If you do have an Apple Watch in the mix, it is not super difficult, just a couple of extra steps to be able to get your new iPhone up and running. There are some who are only getting new Apple Watches, and that is a whole other upgrade process that will need to occur.

  • Apple Fall 2017 Event Prediction Results

    Apple’s Fall 2017 event was almost a week ago, so I thought it was time to go ahead and look at how well my predictions did.

    Here is what I predicted plus the results. Overall I got 12 out of 22, so 54.5% correct. I guess that’s not too bad. If you add this and my WWDC predictions, I am at 51.35% for the year, not too bad. I think I was not too far off, particularly since these predictions were made before the leak of the Gold Master of iOS 11, which was the weekend before the announcement. Here are the predictions and the results.

    Item Chance Result
    iPhone 7s 95% Wrong – iPhone 8 not 7s.
    iPhone 7s Plus 95% Wrong – iPhone 8 Plus not 7s Plus
    iPhone 7s/Plus Same Price 95% Wrong – Prices went up
    iPhone Pro 90% Wrong – Called the iPhone X, not Pro.
    iPhone Pro Automatic Portrait Mode 25% Wrong – No such feature
    iPHone Pro object detection 75% Partially Correct – Can detect faces only
    iPhone Pro No Touch ID 90% Correct – Touch ID is gone
    iPhone Pro Biometric ID 90% Correct – Face ID is used to unlock the phone
    iPhone Pro 4K 60fps 50% Correct – Also on the iPhone 8/8 Plus
    iPhone Pro wireless charging 50% Correct – Also on the iPhone 8/8 Plus
    iPhone Pro Pricing 60% Partially Correct- only two models, $999 for 64GB and $1149 for 256GB
    New Apple Watch 90% Correct
    LTE Version of Apple Watch 90% Correct
    Apple Watch Pricing 80% Wrong – pricing was only $70 more for LTE versions
    New Apple Watch Bands 95% Correct – even mentioned on stage
    New Apple TV 90% Correct
    Amazon Prime Video app release date 100% Wrong – No release date given, just “Fall”
    New Apple TV Pricing 75% Partially Correct – two models on Apple TV 4K, but 4th Generation is still around
    HomePod pre-order announced 50% Wrong – no pre-order information
    iOS 11 Release date, September 19th 100% Correct – it arrives tomorrow, September 19th
    macOS High Sierra, September 19th 80% Wrong – Release date is September 25th not September 19th.
    New Mac Mini 5% Wrong, since there is no Mac mini update
  • Apple’s Fall 2017 Event Round Up: iPhone X

    Apple has held their annual Fall Event. The biggest aspect to any Fall event is the unveiling of new iPhones. This event does indeed include new iPhones. Apple’s fall event is the one that receives the most attention from not just technology media, but, more importantly, from those outside of the technology sphere. With that fact in mind Apple chose to hold this year’s event at the new Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple Park campus. To me, it seems quite befitting to have the first event at the new Steve Jobs Theater be the unveiling of iPhones. This is because back in January of 2007, Steve Jobs stood on stage at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco and unveiled the first iPhone, one that would revolutionize not just only the mobile phone industry, but also the technology sphere in general. The mobile phone revolution has ushered in one of the greatest technology shifts of the last few centuries. While Today’s iPhone announcements may, to some, seem evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, the march of progress continues. This article focuses solely on the iPhone X. I have all of the information about the Apple TV, Apple Watch, and iPhone 8 in a separate article.

    iPhone X

    Apple announced the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. There is just “one more thing” that Apple announced, a third new phone. That model is the future of smartphones, and is the iPhone X. The iPhone X is an all new design for the iPhone. Before we dive into the features of the iPhone X, let us talk about colors, which many may think are not important, but are often used to help personalize an iPhone.

    Colors

    The original iPhone in 2007 came in just one color, aluminum. The iPhone 3G introduced a second color, white. These two colors remained the only options until 2013 when Gold was introduced with the iPhone 5s. Unless you were willing to purchase a Space Gray, or Black, iPhone, all other faces on the iPhone line are white. This changes with the iPhone X. Now, all fronts of the iPhone X are black. This means that for those who only wanted a black bezel to their iPhones can now get something besides Black or Space Gray.

    The back of the iPhone is where people really select their colors. iPhones since the iPhone 6s, meaning the 6s and 7, have had four options. Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and Space Gray. The iPhone X has a slightly different set of colors as options. There are only two options available, Silver and Space Gray. There is no option for the front face, as it barely there. The selection of Silver and Space Gray should come as no surprise, as these are likely the most popular colors purchased. It is not easy to determine which model will be the most popular, and with such a revolutionary phone, it may be prudent to stick with just a couple of colors to gauge interest before expanding the color choice. Let us dive into the internals of the iPhone X.

    Internals

    One change that occurs with each new iPhone is the interior components. The new iPhone X contains the new A11 Bionic processor along with its M11 motion co-processor. The A11 Bionic This brings even better battery efficiency and processing to the phone. The A11 Bionic is a six core processor that consists of four high efficiency cores that are up to 70 percent faster than A10 Fusion. It also has two high performance cores that are up to 25 percent faster than the A10 Fusion. To go with the processor, Apple has included a new Apple-designed graphics processor as well. This will get 30% faster performance over the graphics in the A10 Fusion.

    There is an all new item incorporated with the A11 Bionic, a neural engine. The neural engine will allow even faster processing of Augmented Reality and Machine Learning than the A10 Fusion. The neural engine is designed not only for Augmented Reality and Machine Learning, but can be used for many other things like processing of items within photos and much much more. The neural engine will work very well with a new feature, one that replaces the home button.

    Home Button

    The new iPhone X an edge to edge screen. The thing that is most conspicuously missing is the home button. The home button no longer has a place on the iPhone X. With the home button gone, there have been some other changes. One of the primary functions of the home button is to get you back to the home screen. This is still accessible, however there is a new way of doing so. The home screen is now accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Doing this will actually bring up the app switcher, which is very similar to the function within the iPad. To actually get to the home screen just tap on an empty area of the app switcher and the home screen will appear. Again, this is exactly how it works on an iPad under iOS 11. The second primary function of the home button to both unlock the phone as well as to use Apple Pay, and finally to force a refresh should something cause your iPhone to freeze. How are these to be done with the iPhone X? There are new methods for accomplishing all of these tasks.

    Biometrics

    Apple Pay is a core part of Apple’s strategy for iOS and macOS and it makes up a good part of their services revenue. To that end, Apple would not remove Apple Pay from its products; particularly when they announced the Person-to-Person Apple Pay within iMessage on iOS 11. Without a home button with integrated Touch ID to place your finger on to authenticate Touch ID, you can now use the new Face ID technology.

    At the top of the iPhone X there is a notch that contains a number of sensors. These include the front camera as well as the new infrared sensors for the new Face ID. Face ID is the replacement for TouchID on the iPhone X. If you have used Touch ID, and a vast majority of users have, you are accustomed to placing your finger on the Touch ID sensor. Face ID is similar, but instead of your finger, the new infrared sensors scan your face to determine that it is indeed you. The setup for Face ID is similar to Touch ID. When you setup Face ID, you move the camera around your face a bit. This is done to be able to get different angles of your face. This is exactly like setting up Touch ID where you place your finger in different spots to make sure that Touch ID works as often as possible.

    Face ID will only unlock your iPhone X if you are actively looking at it. This means that the iPhone X will not unlock if you are looking away, or have your eyes closed. Unlike a fingerprint, people’s faces do not stay the same over time. Hair styles change, men grow mustaches or beards, and people wear hats, add glasses, or many other alterations. As time progresses, Face ID will learn about all of these changes and continue to unlock your phone, just like it did when you initially set up Face ID. What powers all of Face ID is powered by the all new TrueDepth Camera sensor.

    TrueDepth Camera

    There is an area at the at the top of the screen of the iPhone X. This notch houses a number of the camera sensors for the iPhone. It also requires some accommodations within iOS. The adjustments that are needed revolve around the status bar. The status bar has been a staple of iOS since the beginning. iOS has always shown the time, carrier information, wireless status, and battery. This is still the case with the iPhone X, but the information is now displayed around the notch. On the left is the cellular and wireless information. While on the right is the time, Do not Disturb, Bluetooth, battery, and the current time.

    One of the features introduced under iOS 9, is the “back” button to go back to where you were. This is still present. When you follow a deep link that allows you to go back to the previous app, this information will be shown on the left, however instead of being in the left of the status bar, it will be directly below the items on the left side of the status bar. This should actually make it easier for users to go back to the previous app. There is a lot sensors packed within the TrueDepth Camera, let us turn to that now.

    There are eight different sensors in the top. These are:

    • Infrared Camera
    • Flood Illuminator
    • Proximity Sensor
    • Ambient Light Sensor
    • Speaker
    • Microphone
    • Front Camera
    • Dot Projector

    The Infrared Camera, Flood illuminator, and Dot Projector are all parts that work together to be sure that it is truly your face that is being shown on the screen. These three sensors, combined with the Neural Engine of the A11 Bionic, is able to quickly and seamlessly detect that you are who are you. The Dot Projector will project and detect 30,000 different invisible dots to be able to look at each feature of your face. The there are three items that occur nearly simultaneously. These items are:

    1. Your Face is detected with the flood illuminator.
    2. The infrared camera takes an infrared picture.
    3. The Dot projector detects 30,000 invisible dots.

    The infrared image and dot project are mathematically calculated using the Neural Engine within the A11 Bionic, and a calculation occurs. This is done through specialized hardware and machine learning algorithms that are within the neural engine. The neural engine is capable of handling 600 billion operations per second on a dual-core processor. All of this results in nearly instantaneous calculations. This new calculation is compared to the stored calculation within the secure enclave and if it matches, your phone is unlocked.

    Security with Face ID is important, just as it is with Touch ID. Face ID will not allow pictures of you to be able to be used to unlock your iPhone X. Apple states that with Touch ID, the likelihood of someone being able to randomly come up and unlock your iPhone with their fingerprint is 1 in 50,000. With Face ID, this is reduced to 1 in a million. The chances for Face ID are reduced if someone closely related to you tries to unlock your iPhone X with Face ID. That is Face ID in a nutshell, let us move to the thing that you look at the most, the screen.

    The Screen

    The new iPhone X has a completely new edge-to-edge screen. This screen Optical Light Emitting Diode, or OLED, screen. OLED is a bit different from the traditional Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD, screens that have appeared on the previous iPhone models. There are two big benefits with OLED. The first is that OLED allows for darker blacks and brighter whites. This ultimately means that the picture that is shown will be even better than on LCDs. The second benefit is that OLED uses less electricity, which improves battery life. And who does not like better battery life?

    To complement the new OLED screen, the iPhone X incorporates True Tone. True Tone is the same technology that is within the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and second generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. True Tone utilizes a light sensor to be able to automatically adjust the colors on the screen. Combining True Tone with the OLED screen means that the display should be able to produce even better colors; particularly within sunlight.

    The edge-to-edge form-factor means more than just less bezel space. It also means that the iPhone X has a distinct resolution. The resolution of the iPhone X is 2436 pixels tall by 1125 pixels wide. This is not a screen resolution that has been on an iPhone before. The biggest change occurred in 2014 with the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus when developing on the iPhone required supporting two more screen sizes. This was in addition to the already known, at the time, 320 pixels by 480 pixels, the retina size of this, 640 pixels by 960 pixels. The first significant change was with the iPhone 5 and its screen resolution of 640 pixels by 1136 pixels. It was was only a difference of 176 pixels in height, and usually meant that you were able to show more items vertically.

    The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus introduced the two new screen sizes of 750 pixels wide by 1334 pixels high. The iPhone 6 Plus introduced a screen resolution of 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels high. The way that developers can make sure that they work with any screen size is through the use of size classes. The addition of this new screen resolution shows that Apple is not afraid to branch out and create a screen resolution that does not fit what developers, as well as users, have become accustom to. If you are a developer, it is becoming increasingly difficult to not use size classes within your applications. Any applications that do not conform to size class will quickly become apparent to users of the iPhone X.

    One of the complaints, by some, is that the Plus-sized phones are not comfortable in the hand. The screen resolution of the iPhone X is, of course, due to the physical screen size; which is 5.15 inches. With the edge-to-edge nature of the screen, all of this fits within approximately the same size as the 4.7-inch iPhone 8. This screen size is not as large as the screen on the iPhone 8 Plus, which is 5.5-inches. Even with the physical screen being smaller, the screen resolution is still larger than the Plus-sized phones. This is a nice size between the two, which should help appease some of those who find the Plus-sized phone to be too large and having a larger area is just an added bonus.

    Camera

    The biggest digital camera on the market right now is the iPhone. The iPhone, along with other mobile phones, has replaced the use of traditional cameras for many people, including myself. This trend is why Apple has paid significant attention to the camera in recent releases of the iPhone. The camera in the iPhone X has some new capabilities that were not available previously. The camera is now capable of recording 1080p HD at 240 frames per second, 4K at 24 frames per second , and even 4K at 60 frames per second. The 1080p at 240fps, and 4K at 60fps are double what the previous iPhones were capable of handling. The new 4K at 24 fps is possible through the use of HEVC. HEVC is capable of handling many different frame rates. The use of 24 frames per second is standard within the movie world and will allow you to take film style video.

    The addition of new video filming options will absolutely help drive even more video and photos being shot on iPhone, which is an ad campaign that they have been running, and this should allow even better submissions.

    The new Front Camera, within the TrueDepth Camera system, is upgraded over the FaceTime HD camera on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The front camera is also capable of taking Portrait Mode photos. Combining this with Portrait Lighting on the front camera, means that you can take some fantastic selfies. The front facing camera is great for selfies, but there is a new feature specifically on the iPhone X, that can be used with the front camera.

    The first is Portrait Mode on the front facing camera. It is nice to be able to take Portrait photos with the rear facing camera, but being able to get a portrait mode selfie will allow you to up your selfie game against others. Another adjacent feature is Portrait Lighting. Portrait Lighting will let you adjust not only the lighting on your face, but also the lighting of the background. The best part is that this can be done after the fact. So if you take a selfie but think it could be a bit better with some more light, you can make the adjustments afterwards to get an even better picture.

    There are some other enhancements with the rear-facing camera. You can now record video in 4K at 60 frames per second, this is double the speed on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The telephoto lens on the iPhone X now includes optical image stabilization, which was not present on any previous iPhone, but is present on the iPhone 8 Plus.

    The last new feature with the front camera is one that may be quite popular with kids.

    Animoji

    Apple unveiled a lot of information its World Wide Developer Conference event in June, but they left out a couple of new features that are present in iOS 11. The biggest, and one that will appeal to many users, is the inclusion of some enhancements to emoji. Emoji are a progression in communication mechanisms by many across the world. Emoji can add additional expression that could be conveyed via the written word, but are vastly more succinct through the use of an emoji character. One of the benefits of emoji is that they can be used for both their intended purpose, as well as ironically, or with an alternate meaning.

    Take, for instance, the use of the eggplant, 🍆 emoji. It can be used to indicate that you want to eat some eggplant; however it can also be used as a phallic symbol. Similarly, you can send someone a peach, 🍑, emoji. Again, to signify that you want to eat a peach, or tell someone that you think they are a peach, or even that you are peachy keen. It also has been used as replacement for one backside. The last example that I will use is the infamous poop emoji, 💩. If you are of a certain age, you may also refer to him as “Mr. Hanky”. Just like the 🍆 and 🍑, 💩 can also be used in a variety of situations. One situation would allow you to indicate that you are not feeling well. Whereas another would be that you might be indicating to someone that they are being a pile of poop. All of these examples above are just a few of the various ways that emoji can be used to signal meaning. These are all just static two dimensional representations.

    Apple has expounded upon this concept by including a new feature for iMessage called Animoji. Animoji take the concept of a static emoji but it utilizes your face as well as your voice, to determine which emoji might represent your current expression. Besides just choosing an emoji, which is a feat in itself, the emoji that it chooses is three dimensional and animated. Some of the emoji that are represented by Animoji are the 🐵, 🤖, 🐱, 🐶, and yes even 💩. There are more, but these are just some of the one that are available.

    When you begin to send an Animoji within iMessage, your head movements will be mimicked on screen in real time, at the same time you can be speaking and you voice will be recorded. You can then send the Animoji to someone via iMessage. It will then be played back to them. Animojis, while they may seem trivial or dumb, will add a bit of excitement and fun to the existing emoji. It will be interesting to see what faces people can make and what Animoji iOS 11 will show them.

    Wireless Charging

    The back of the iPhone X is glass. This allows for a new feature, wireless charging. The standard that Apple is using on the iPhone X is the Qi, pronounced “she”, standard. This means that if you have a Qi-compliant charging pad, it will work with the iPhone X. The inclusion of wireless charging will allow users to simply place their iPhone on a charging pad and it should begin charging. This means that you will not have to plug in your iPhone just to have it charge. This is convenient, not only for home, but also if you travel. This is because you can bring a charging mat that will allow your iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3, and even AirPods charge wirelessly.

    There is a new product coming in 2018 called “AirPower”. AirPower is a mat designed by Apple that will allow you to charge all of your Apple devices at once. This is great not just for travelers, but also as a place to be able to set all of your items and know where they are located.

    Pre-orders and Pricing

    The iPhone X is the future of the smart phone, and with that it commands a futuristic price. The iPhone X comes in two configurations, 64GB and 256GB and as mentioned above, it comes in two colors, Silver and Space Gray. The 64GB model is $999 and the 256GB model is $1149. Apple Care on the iPhone X has also gone up to $199. This brings the total to somewhere between $1200 and $1349. It is available for pre-orders starting October 27th, with delivery starting on November 3rd. It is very possible that the iPhone X will be in short supply after launch.

    Final Thoughts

    The all new iPhone X, much like with the introduction of the MacBook in early 2015, is showing us the direction it is going to take not just the iPhone X, but phones in the future. The bezel-less display has some great upgrades, in particular the fact that a larger 5.8-inch screen fits into a form factor just slightly larger than the 4.7-inch screen. The new TrueDepth camera allows Face ID to exist. The addition of a neural engine within the A11 processor allows the computation that is necessary to make Face ID open quickly and seamlessly. The inclusion of wireless charging is a great step towards a completely wireless future. Even though it may seem trivial, the inclusion of the new Animoji will add a new dynamic to interactions amongst individuals. The new Animoji feature will be a great demo to show off just what the iPhone X is capable of doing. Even though the iPhone X is pricey at $999 for the 64GB model, it is the future, which means that the technology within the iPhone X will eventually trickle down to the lower end phones.

  • Apple’s Fall 2017 Event Round Up: Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iPhone 8

    Apple has held their annual Fall Event. The biggest aspect to any Fall event is the unveiling of new iPhones. This event does indeed include new iPhones. Apple’s fall event is the one that receives the most attention from not just technology media, but, more importantly, from those outside of the technology sphere. With that fact in mind Apple chose to hold this year’s event at the new Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple Park campus. To me, it seems quite befitting to have the first event at the new Steve Jobs Theater be the unveiling of iPhones. This is because back in January of 2007, Steve Jobs stood on stage at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco and unveiled the first iPhone, one that would revolutionize not just only the mobile phone industry, but also the technology sphere in general. The mobile phone revolution has ushered in one of the greatest technology shifts of the last few centuries. While Today’s iPhone announcements may, to some, seem evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, the march of progress continues.

    This article focuses on the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. If you are looking for the iPhone X, that is in its own article.

    Apple Watch

    The Apple Watch is one of Apple’s newer product lines. When it was introduced three years ago at the September 2014 event, Apple positioned the Apple Watch as a smaller version of the iPhone. While this was a good premise to start a product, ultimately the market has steered the Apple Watch to primarily become a fitness and notification mechanism. While Apple has continued to improve the software, most notably with watch OS 3, and now with WatchOS 4, the hardware, besides internal changes, has remained unchanged. The hardware that was present on the original Apple Watch is the same that was on the Apple Watch Series 2. One of the downsides to the Apple Watch, up to now, has been the need for many to bring their iPhones with them when they go and exercise. The Apple Watch Series 2 obviated this, in someways, by providing a GPS radio in the watch. This is beneficial to those who wanted to plot a route foe their outdoor workouts, but it did not completely reduce the need for bringing an iPhone along.

    Hardware Changes

    The new Apple Watch Series 3 has made a big leap forward, in this regard. The Apple Watch Series 3 now includes an LTE radio. The inclusion of an LTE radio opens up many more opportunities for fitness. The biggest, and most obvious, is that the Series 3 you can now leave your iPhone at home. To complement this new capability, watchOS 4 includes a new feature that will allow you to automatically sync some of your favorite music to the Apple Watch. This is quite useful if you want to exercise and only bring your bluetooth headphones and your Apple Watch. Combining this with the new watchOS 4 feature that allows you to pair your Apple Watch with gym equipment, and the other new feature to quickly add a new exercise to your current session directly on the watch, one can quickly see that it becomes even easier to switch your current exercise,or music, without needing to fumble with your watch.

    There are both upsides and downsides to the inclusion of LTE on the Apple Watch. The upside is that Apple has worked with the carriers to be able to receive phone calls on your Apple Watch. This is not only a convenient feature when around the house, but it will be super helpful should you need to call emergency services. The addition of LTE also means that you will be able to receive iMessages, phone calls, and perform many of the same tasks you would on an iPhone, but with your Apple Watch. Starting in October, you will even be able to stream your Apple Music right from you watch, over LTE.

    The processor in the Apple Watch Series 3 has been upgrade to a faster dual-core model, named the S3. Along with this there is a new Apple Wireless chip, the W2. The W2 make some enhancements over the W1, but what those are is not known.

    There is an additional hardware change. The Apple Watch Series 3 includes a new barometric altimeter. The barometric altimeter will allow you to more accurately track flights walked up as well as differences in elevation when you are exercising outdoors.

    The Apple Watch Series 3, with Cellular has 16GB of storage available on it, this is up from 8GB on the non-cellular models and the older Apple Watches. The last tweak is that the back of the Apple Watch Series 3, with cellular is ceramic and no longer composite. This is due to the nature of radio and the need to be able to send signals through the back of the watch. The advance in processing power has allowed Apple to let Siri actually respond with voice instead of just text.

    The last change regarding cellular is the location of the wireless radio for cellular. It is actually embedded within the screen which leaves even more room for the other internals that are needed. Let us turn to some accessories for the Apple Watch, most notably the bands.

    Bands

    One of the ways that individuals customize their Apple Watch is through bands. Apple has unveiled a new style of band, the Sport Loop. The Sport Loop combines the best of the Sport band with the best of the Milanese Loop. The Sport Loop functions like the Milanese in that you can precisely position it how you need. At the same time though, it is able to breathe like the sport band so that you can use it while exercising.

    There are eight colors for the Sport Loop. These colors are:

    • Flash
    • Spicy Orange
    • Electric Pink
    • Midnight Blue
    • Black Sport
    • Seashell
    • Dark Olive
    • Pink Sand

    Just like traditional sport bands, these cost $49 and are available to order today for delivery on September 22nd. The Sport Loop is not the only update, there are two new Hermès bands as well. One for the 38mm, the Hermès Bordeaux Swift Leather Double Tour, and the corresponding Single Tour version available for both the 38mm and 42mm. The Double Tour is $489, and the Single Tour is $339. There are still more bands available.

    There is a whole new line of Nylon Colors. The available colors for Nylon are:

    • Dark Olive Woven Nylon
    • Midnight Blue Woven Nylon
    • White Woven Nylon
    • Spicy Orange Woven Nylon
    • Berry Woven Nylon
    • Black Woven Nylon
    • White Woven Nylon
    • Midnight Blue Woven Nylon
    • Black Woven Nylon

    Just like the Sport Loop, these are available for delivery starting September 22nd. There is a single new Nike Sport Band, the Pure Platinum/Black band. It is available for $49. The last new set of bands available are the Leather ones, with buckles. The new options are:

    • Cosmos Blue Classic Buckle
    • Pink Fuchsia Classic Buckle
    • Dark Aubergine Classic Buckle
    • Ruby (PRODUCT)RED Classic Buckle
    • Cosmos Blue Leather Loop (42mm only)
    • Charcoal Gray Leather Loop (42mm only)

    Just like the other bands, these are available for order today and delivery of September 22nd. These bands cost $149 each.

    Apple Watch Colors

    Outside of the addition of LTE, there have been a couple of other hardware changes. The Apple Watch initially came in two colors, Silver and Space Gray. There were three different possible materials choices for the case; aluminum, stainless steel, and also solid gold, but that was for the high-end “edition” model. The Apple Watch Series 2 expanded the colors to include Rose Gold and Gold for the aluminum in addition to a new white ceramic as the “Apple Watch Edition” model. This year there are a couple new colors. There is a new “Blush Gold” aluminum color and a new “Gray” for the ceramic edition of the Apple Watch. While these may be modest changes, these will definitely help attract more users, and provide a few more options in the product line.

    The Apple Watch Series 3 comes in the same color choices. For the Sport model the options are Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. Pricing for the 38MM aluminum starts at $329. The Cellular option is $70 more at $399. The 42MM is $359 for the non-cellular model and $429 for the cellular model. The Apple Watch Edition is only available in a cellular model. The 38MM is $1299, and the 42MM is $1349.

    The Stainless Steel and Hermes models are available in the same colors as before. The Stainless Steel model only comes in two colors, Silver and Space Gray, and just like the Apple Watch Edition, the Stainless Steel model is only available in a cellular configuration. The 38mm is available for $599, and the 42mm is $649. The Hermes is only available in Stainless Steel and only comes in cellular models.

    Pre-orders for all of the Apple Watch Series 3 starts on September 15th with deliveries beginning on September 22nd.

    Apple TV

    The Apple TV began life in 2007 as a modified version of a Mac Mini. This was replaced with a small “puck” like device in the 2nd and 3rd Generation Apple TVs. In 2015, Apple unveiled their all new 4th Generation Apple TV. This Apple TV changed the paradigm for the Apple TV to one that was based upon applications and not based upon whom Apple was willing to partner with. The Apple TV has seen a modicum of success in the last two years. Today, Apple announced an all new Apple TV 4K. The changes that have been brought with the Apple TV 4K bring capabilities to the Apple TV that allow it to take advantage of today’s television technology.

    The most notable upgrade to the Apple TV 4K is the fact that it can do 4K. 4K television have been around for almost a decade and it is very likely that any TV that you purchase will be a 4K Television. 4K offers twice the number of vertical pixels, 2160, as well as twice the number of horizontal pixels, 3840 pixels over traditional HD TVs, which have a resolution of 1920 pixels wide by 1080 Pixels high. This means that there are four times the number of pixels on the same size screen. This should allow for better clarity and smoother action scenes.

    The second, and possibly more noticeable feature, is the addition of High Dynamic Range, or HDR. You may already be familiar with HDR if you use your iPhone to take pictures. HDR on an iPhone will take three pictures and take the best features of each and combine them into a single picture. Ultimately, this results in better colors and more contrast within a picture. The same general thing occurs with HDR on TVs. HDR on a TV will allow for even blacker blacks and even brighter whites. This means that all of the colors on a screen will be even brighter and clearer, which will see the picture even more life-like.

    The internals of the Apple TV 4K have been significantly improved. It now sports an A10X Fusion processor in it. This is the same as the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The Apple TV 4K also has Bluetooth 5.0 for connectivity to the latest peripherals. Alongside this comes HDMI 2.0a and Gigabit Ethernet. This is up from Bluetooth 4.2, HDMI 1.4, and 10/100 ethernet. The wireless has also been improved to support the 5GHz band

    Apple would not introduce a 4K Apple TV without having some 4K content to go with it. iTunes now has 4K content within the store. 4K movies will cost the same as HD movies. So around $20 for new releases. Rentals will cost the same around $6 for new releases. With having four times as many pixels being shown within a 4K movie, you might think that the size of the file would be significantly higher. In reality, they are not. With the new High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) in tvOS 11, and iOS 11, 4K movies will be able to be better compressed all while maintaining their quality. This means that 4K movies should come in around 4GB for a 90 minute movie. This is approximately the same size as a 1080p movie that is not encoded with HEVC.

    If you already have HD Movies, they will automatically be upgraded to 4K versions. This is a great perk for those who already have large iTunes collections.

    The addition of 4K and HDR to the Apple TV will make it a worthy upgrade for anyone who has an Apple TV and a 4K TV. The Apple TV 4K is available for pre-order on September 15th, for $179 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model. The 32GB 4th Generation Apple TV is still around for $149.

    iPhones

    With the iPhone being the biggest consumer item for Apple, making up 60% of all of Apple’s profits, and with selling millions of phones every quarter, it is hard to keep a lid on all of the changes that are to come with a new iPhone. This year presents a big change for iPhones. The biggest being that there are three different models being introduced. From 2007 through 2013, there was only one model introduced. It may have come in some colors, but there was only one size. From 2007 to 2011, this was a 3.5-inch sized iPhone. For 2012 and 2013, this was 4-inch screen. Since 2014, there have been two sizes, 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, starting with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. These two sizes continue with the 8 and 8 Plus. Let us look at the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

    iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

    The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus continue on the tradition of their predecessors. The general form factor of the phone has remained unchanged since the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014. There have been some interior structural changes, like with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus becoming a bit more rigid to combat any inadvertent bending. Many people may complain that the outside of the iPhone has remained unchanged for four releases now, however this does come with some benefits. For instance, it means that Apple has gotten really good at making the exterior cases for the phone. Along side this, many of your peripherals will continue to work with a new phone, just like they did on the old phone. However, that is not always the case.

    The biggest change with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models were that he headphone jack was removed. The removal of the headphone jack allowed Apple to make the iPhone something that it was not previously capable of being; water resistant. One of the quickest ways to kill any electronic device is to expose it to water. The change to the water resistant case, which required removal of the headphone jack, has lead to fewer iPhones being destroyed by being put into water; whether willingly or unwillingly.

    Processor

    One change that occurs every year is the interior components. The new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus contains the new A11 Bionic processor along with its M11 motion co-processor. The A11 Bionic This brings even better battery efficiency and processing to the phone. The A11 Bionic is a six core processor that consists of four high efficiency cores that are up to 70 percent faster than A10 Fusion. It also has two high performance cores that are up to 25 percent faster than the A10 Fusion. To go with the processor, Apple has included a new Apple-designed graphics processor as well. This will get 30% faster performance over the graphics in the A10 Fusion.

    There is an all new item incorporated with the A11 Bionic, a neural engine. The neural engine will allow even faster processing of Augmented Reality and Machine Learning than the A10 Fusion. The neural engine is designed not only for Augmented Reality and Machine Learning, but can be used for many other things like processing of items within photos and much much more. The new items within the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus do not end there. Let us look now turn to the screen.

    Screen

    The screen on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are significantly better with an all new technology that Apple is calling Retina HD displays. Retina HD displays incorporate True Tone technology to adjust the screen to the right brightness, contrast, and color based upon the surroundings. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also incorporate the Wide Color Gamut, which will be able to show the best colors possible.

    With the glass back on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple has matched the aluminum band around the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus to be the exact same color as the back. Besides matching aesthetically, this also allows for more rigidity within the iPhone.

    Camera

    The biggest usage of any iPhone is the camera. The camera in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have been vastly improved. They now both feature Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync. They are also capable of recording 4K video at 60 frames per second, which will make your 4K video even more life-like. The cameras have otherwise remained largely the same.

    The iPhone 8 Plus has seen a bit of an improvement on its own. It now has a new feature, Portrait Lighting. Similar to the way that Portrait photos were brought to the iPhone 7 Plus last year, Portrait Lighting is in beta, but it allows you to perform some interesting effects with a Portrait photo. Portrait Lighting will take the information from the surrounding light and apply a lighting effect to the photo. The biggest benefit is that you can do this retroactively and you can also change

    Battery

    One of the things you can always expect is that battery life on the iPhone will remain fairly consistent. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are no exception. They get the same battery life as their predecessors.

    The iPhone 8 has a new set of materials on the outside. The front and back are now both glass. The glass is surrounded by a band of aluminum. The glass back allows for an all new feature to iPhones, wireless charging.

    The wireless charging that is included with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is the Qi, pronounced “she”, standard. This means that if you have a Qi-compliant charging pad, it will work with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The inclusion of wireless charging will allow users to simply place their iPhone on a charging pad and it should begin charging. This means that you will not have to plug in your iPhone just to have it charge. This is convenient, not only for home, but also if you travel. This is because you can bring a charging mat that will allow your iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3, and even AirPods charge wirelessly.

    There is a new product coming in 2018 called “AirPower”. AirPower is a mat designed by Apple that will allow you to charge all of your Apple devices at once.

    Pricing

    The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus come in two configurations. 64GB and 256GB and come in three colors; Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. The prices have gone up slightly to $699 and $799, respectively, for the 64GB models. The 256GB models are $849 and $949 respectively. Pre-orders for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus begin Friday September 15th, and delivery starts on September 22nd.

    Other iPhones

    When Apple introduces new iPhone models, they typically eliminate an older model, however that is not the case this year. The iPhone 6s/6s Plus and iPhone 7/7 Plus are still available, as is the iPhone SE. The pricing on these models has changed though.

    The iPhone SE is now $50 cheaper, at $349 for 32GB and $449 for 128GB. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have dropped by $100. The iPhone 6s is $449 for the 32GB model, and $549 for the 128GB Model, while the iPhone 6s Plus is $549 for the 32GB model and $649 for the 128GB Model. The iPhone 7 is also $100 less at $549 for the 32GB model, and $649 for the 128GB model, where as the iPhone 7 Plus is $669 for the 32GB model, and $769 for the 128GB Model.

    The decision to keep the iPhone 6s will allow even more devices to be purchased that support ARKit under iOS 11, which means that Apple’s current iPhone line supports ARKit.

    Final Thoughts

    The new LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 will allow those who exercise to leave their phones somewhere safe and no use them and without having to sacrifice connectivity. The improved processor will make things even smoother than before. Even though the Apple Watch Serires 2 is no longer available for sale, the Series 1 is still available at a new lower price, of $249. The inclusion of cellular as a standard on the Hermes, Stainless Steel, and Ceramic Edition will provide even more benefit for users who purchase those versions.

    The new Apple TV 4K is a great upgrade to bring the Apple TV up to date to be able to take advantage of the latest technologies, like 4K and High Dynamic Range. Keeping the old 4th Generation Apple TV around at a lower price point will allow more options for Apple TVs and will allow those who do not have a 4K TV to be able to take advantage of the capabilities of the Apple TV. The automatic upgrade of previously purchased content to 4K is a definite plus that will benefit everyone, not just those who have 4K now, but will end up buying a 4K TV in the future. The biggest benefit is that the pricing of the 4K movies will be the same price as HD movies, which is great for consumers and will ultimately benefit the movie companies as well.

    The new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus bring some solid enhancements to the already future-looking iPhone lineup. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus add a couple of additional phones to the lineup and are ARKit compatible. The all new glass back will definitely allow the adoption of the Qi wireless charging standard to become the de facto standard. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are solid upgrades over the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The Retina HD with True Tone display will allow for better viewing all around. If you are in the market for an iPhone, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are solid upgrades. Just be sure to get your wallets ready for pre-orders of all of these starting on Friday.

  • Apple Fall 2017 Event Predictions

    Now that Apple has announced that its Fall 2017 event will be held at the Steve Jobs Theater on September 12th, at 10AM Pacific Time, it is time for me to make my predictions for what we will see. Even though Apple does hold other events throughout the year, its biggest has been the September event. The reason for the attention to the September event is that it has been the tradition to show off the new iPhones at the event. In years past, the September event has been used for Music. The iPhone makes up 60% of Apple’s revenue, so that is where the most attention is paid, not only by the tech press, but mainstream media as well. Let us dive into my predictions.

    iPhones

    I think there will be three new iPhone versions unveiled at the event. The successors to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which will be named the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. These will use the same form factor as the previous versions. The biggest changes will be from the addition of the Dual camera for the iPhone 7s, which will allow Portrait Mode on the smaller size. I think the processor will be an A11 Fusion, the next generation of processor and the two phones will have parity, in everything except for size. This is akin to the way the iPad Pros are now positioned. This will just be a continuation of that model. I think the sizes will remain the same at 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. Alongside this, I think the colors will also remain the same as Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and Space Gray. The prices will also remain the same at $649 for the 32GB iPhone 7s, and each increase in size is $100 more. The same will be for the iPhone 7s Plus, starting at $769 for the 32GB, and $100 more for each size above that. I give this a 95% probability of occurring.

    New iPhone Form Factor

    The third new phone will be an all new model. This is the rumored “Unicorn” iPhone. As an aside, the idea of naming it “Unicorn” is dumb, it will only be a “Unicorn” phone until it is released and then the next iPhone will be the “Unicorn” phone. You can absolutely call it the “Ferrari” phone, or “D22”, or “iPhone 8” or even “iPhone Pro”. For the sake of these predictions, I will call it the iPhone Pro. The reason I think it may be called the iPhone Pro is it allows Apple to get away from assigning a number to it, and instead just call all versions the same name.

    I think the iPhone Pro will sport everything that has been rumored, as well as leaked from the HomePod firmware. The iPhone Pro will sport an “edge to edge” display, an A11 Fusion processor, and a True Tone OLED Display that supports Apple’s ProMotion technology, similar to the iPad Pros. Along with all of this, there will be an improved dual camera system that will be even better at detecting objects and may even be able to have a new setting for automatically doing a “Portrait” mode of a Photo, much like you are able to do now with HDR photos. I give this aspect a 25% chance. That is not all with the camera. I’m also thinking that it will be able to do 3X optical zoom, up from the 2X optical zoom on the iPhone 7s Plus. The rationale behind this is that the 10.5-inch and 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pros both have 3x optical zoom capability. The last new feature of the phone, which may also make its way into the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus is 4K record at 60 frames per second. All of Apple’s cameras have been able to do 4K at 30 frames per second, but having a “Pro” iPhone capable of 4K at 60fps would be a great feature. I know I would use it.

    As the rumors have indicated, I think Touch ID will not be available on the iPhone Pro, yet there will be a replacement, BioMetric detection through Face Detection. The last new feature that I think will come to the “iPhone Pro” will be wireless charging. Apple already has some wireless charging available with the Apple Watch. The lightning port will not go away, as it is still necessary for many things. However, the ability to charge wirelessly will be built-in and a wireless charging dock will be an extra cost. My guess is $99 or even $129 for the dock. If this does come to fruition, whatever standard that Apple chooses, if they do not do their own, will ultimately become the de-facto standard since Apple ships so many phones.

    The hard part to predict with an iPhone Pro is the price. The rumors indicate that it will be $1200. While I can see Apple charging that for a phone, that is most likely the top end model. There are two possibilities. Let us look at both of these.

    The first possibility is that the iPhone Pro will come in three sizes; 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Again, this is similar to the iPad Pro and these are the sizes that the iPad Pros come in. In this scenario I think the iPhone Pro will also start at $899 or $949, and be $100 more for each size increase. I am speculating this because Apple likes to give surprises and pricing is the one thing that Apple can decide to change at the absolute last minute. A similar pricing surprise occurred with the introduction of the original iPad. Before it was announced, the rumors indicated it would cost $999, and it came in at $499.

    The second possibility, which after thinking about it more seems the more likely course. It is entirely possible that Apple may not do a “low end” size and will only make the iPhone Pro available in two sizes; 256GB and 512GB. This would be akin to the “Jet Black” and “Product Red” iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. These do not come in 32GB versions. If Apple does truly want this to be a “Professional” phone, then only having two sizes would make sense. In this scenario, the pricing may be more inline with the rumors. The pricing could come in at $1049 or $1069 for the 256GB and $1149 or $1169 for the 512GB version.

    I give the overall chance of an iPhone Pro at 90% with the automatic “Portrait Mode” pictures at 25%, object detection at 75%, no Touch ID at 90%, and a new biometric option at 90%. I give 4K at 60 frames per second is 50% chance of occurring and I give wireless charging a 50% chance of occurring. I give my speculation on the pricing on the iPhone Pro at 60%. Now that the iPhones have been covered let us turn to the Apple Watch.

    Apple Watch

    The Apple Watch has slowly become a more focused product, which is the opposite of the iPhone. The Apple Watch is primarily focused on fitness, and one of the current downsides is that those who want to go and exercise usually have to bring their iPhones along with them. My guess is that this will change with the addition of an LTE version of the Apple Watch. This will be the biggest change to the Apple Watch, besides the inclusion of a new, even more power efficient S3 processor.

    I also think that there will be some new Watch Bands, these will have slightly different colors and the existing bands will support the Apple Watch. I think the pricing will be the same as the existing Apple Watch, at $369 for the 38MM, and $399 for the 42MM. I think the LTE versions will be $499 and $529 for each respective size. This would be the same as what it cost to put LTE into an iPad, $130 more. With the introduction of this model, the Series 2 will become the “lower end” model, and drop to $269 for the 38MM and $299 for the 42MM.

    I give the likelihood of a new Apple Watch at 90% and a separate LTE version at 90%, the Apple Watch Pricing at 80% and new Apple Watch Bands at 95%. That is all there is for the Apple Watch, let us move to the Apple TV.

    Apple TV

    The Apple TV is an interesting product. Apple had hoped that the new version of TV would be application based, and while they are not entirely wrong, I do not think it has exploded as Apple might have hoped. Despite that, I think there will be an updated Apple TV unveiled. I think it will have an A9 processor, and support 4K and High Dynamic Range content. It will support resolutions of 3840 by 2160, which is double the vertical resolution of the previous generation.

    I think the storage sizes will be reduced from two, which were 32GB and 64GB, down to just one, a 64GB model. There will still be a 32GB Model, but that will be the 4th Generation Apple TV. The price on the 4th Generation will drop to $119, and the 5th Generation will be $149. I think this may be necessary to be able to compete with other streaming boxes. You can get a 4K Roku for $60, or an Amazon Fire TV for $90. Continuing to charge almost a $100 more, while it may make sense in terms of margins, will not get you new customers as quickly as if you have a compelling hardware offering. If Apple truly sees services as the place for continued growth, then the hardware prices should start to reflect that. Combine this with the rumored $1 Billion that Apple is putting into original Television and it could prove to be a good start to bringing more people into the Apple ecosystem.

    Since Apple does not have its own catalog of content yet, it will need to be supplemented. That is why the release date for the Amazon Prime Video app will be announced on stage. It is already 100% certain that it will come, as it was announced back at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference Keynote.

    I give the likelihood of a new Apple TV coming at 90%, Amazon Prime Video app at 100%, and pricing at 75%. It is entirely possible that Apple does not

    HomePod

    Apple’s newest foray into Music and voice is the HomePod. It was unveiled at Apple’s 2017 World Wide Developer Conference keynote as being available in December, I think Apple will provide a bit more information, possibly even a month in which it can pre-ordered. I give the chance of this happening at 50%.

    macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

    While iOS is now the primary focus not only for Apple, due to profits, but also for developers, the Mac and macOS does not get as much love. Apple will announce the availability date for macOS High Sierra. My guess is that it will be the same day as iOS 11 availability. So my guess is September 19th at the release date for both of these. It is possible that macOS High Sierra might not be released until later though. So I give this an 80% chance of occurring.

    New Mac Hardware

    There is a very very small chance that new Mac Hardware will be discussed, as in a 5% chance. The only Mac that has not been updated this year is the Mac Mini. If Apple mentions it on stage, it will be very brief. In all likelihood. Any Mac Mini update will simply be a press release or even just a change on the website and nothing more.

    Recap

    So, to recap, here is what I am thinking will happen at the September 12th Event. There is just about a week until the event, in the days after the event I will post my prediction results. There are a total of twenty two predictions, so we will see how well I do.

    Item Chance
    iPhone 7s 95%
    iPhone 7s Plus 95%
    iPhone 7s/Plus Same Price 95%
    iPhone Pro 90%
    iPhone Pro Automatic Portrait Mode 25%
    iPHone Pro object detection 75%
    iPhone Pro No Touch ID 90%
    iPhone Pro Biometric ID 90%
    iPhone Pro 4K 60fps 50%
    iPhone Pro wireless charging 50%
    iPhone Pro Pricing 60%
    New Apple Watch 90%
    LTE Version of Apple Watch 90%
    Apple Watch Pricing 80%
    New Apple Watch Bands 95%
    New Apple TV 90%
    Amazon Prime Video app release date 100%
    New Apple TV Pricing 75%
    HomePod pre-order announced 50%
    iOS 11 Release date, September 19th 100%
    macOS High Sierra, September 19th 80%
    New Mac Mini 5%
  • A Smattering of Apple Updates

    Earlier this week Apple released a few products. None of the released hardware products are new, however they all have some upgraded internals. Let us start with two upgraded iPhones.

    iPhone SE

    The first upgrade was to the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE was released about a year ago in March of 2016. The iPhone SE has the same internals as the iPhone 6s. This includes Touch ID, an A9 processor, M9 motion co-processor, and 4K video recording at 30fps. All of this in a 4-inch Retina screen. When the iPhone SE was released, it came in two sizes, 16GB And 64GB models.

    The upgrade increases the two model sizes. They are now 32GB and 128GB models are the same price, $399 and $499 respectively.

    This upgrade indicates two things. The first that the iPhone SE is not a one-off, and is likely to be continued in the future. It will likely be a phone where the internals are upgraded every two years. The second item is that the 16GB Model of iPhone is officially retired; except for maybe refurbished phones. The updated iPhone SE is not the only iPhone with a new model.

    PRODUCT(RED)

    PRODUCT(RED) is a program that raises awareness for, and provides funds, to help eliminate HIV/AIDS. Apple has been supporting (PRODUCT)RED since October 2006 when they unveiled an iPod Nano. Since then, Apple has added many other PRODUCT(RED) items over the last 11 years. The latest release is a particularly important one for Apple.

    Apple has released an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that is Red and White. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the same exact specifications as the Black, Gold, Rose Gold, and Silver models; except for one aspect. The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone does not come in 32GB, just like the Jet Black model. It does come in 128GB and 256GB models.

    The 128GB iPhone 7 model is $749, the 256GB is $849. The 128GB iPhone 7 Plus is $869 and the 256GB is $969. This is the same as the Jet Black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

    The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available for order on Friday, March 24th, at 8:01 AM Pacific Time.

    iPad

    One of the most anticipated products is a new iPad Pro, in particular the 12.9-inch model. Unfortunately, there was not a new version of the iPad Pro being released. There is a new 9.7-inch iPad.

    The new iPad replaces the iPad Air 2 and is a slight upgrade. The new internals of the iPad include an A9 Processor, this is the same processor that is in the iPhone 6s. There is also the same Motion co-processor, the M9. This is the same as the iPhone 6s.

    Besides the internals, the iPad is slightly heavier than its predecessor. The updated iPad is 1.05 pounds, versus 0.96 pounds. There are a couple of things that are no longer on the iPad. The fully laminated display and antireflective coating are no longer on the iPad. This is not the only thing has been dropped from the iPad.

    The price has been dropped. The 32GB Wi-Fi Model is now $329, while the 128GB model is $429. This is down from $399 and $499 respectively. The Wi-Fi + Cellular models are $459 and $559 for the 32GB and 128GB models. This is down from $529 and $629 for the 32GB and 128GB Models.

    The iPad will be available for order on March 24th, at 8:01 AM Pacific Time.

    Accessories

    Apple considers itself a fashion company. One of the ways that Apple keeps ups with fashion is by adding colors to some of its accessories. There are a few areas where this is the case. The first is with new iPhone Cases. There are a few new cases.

    Cases

    For the various iPhone models here are the new colors:

    Leather:

    iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus

    • Berry
    • Sapphire
    • Taupe

    iPhone SE

    • Saddle Brown

    Silicone:

    iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus

    • Azure
    • Camellia
    • Pebble

    Watch Bands

    While iPhone Cases provide some fashion, the Apple Watch bands do allow individual expression.

    SportBand

    • Azure
    • Camellia
    • Pebble

    Nike Bands

    When Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 2, one of the models that were not immediately available; the Nike+ Model. There are two distinct aspects to the Nike+ models. The first aspect is a custom watch face that is only available on the Nike+ models. This is still the case. However, the second distinct aspect is the watch band options for the Nike+ Watches. These watch bands are now available on their own.

    The watch band options are:

    • Black/Volt
    • Anthracite/Black
    • Pure Platinum/White

    These bands are available for $49.

    Woven Nylon

    When Apple introduced the Woven Nylon bands, many of them are two colors. The majority of the band is one color, while a second color is an accent color. The Spring 2017 colors are below.

    • Berry
    • Tahoe Blue
    • Orange
    • Red
    • Pollen
    • Midnight Blue

    All of the colors, excluding the Midnight Blue, are tai-colored. Each of these bands are $49.

    Leather

    One of the more chic materials for watch bands is Leather. There is a new Classic Buckle design for Spring. There are some new colors as well. These are the colors that are available:

    • Berry
    • Black
    • Midnight Blue
    • Red
    • Saddle Brown
    • Sapphire
    • Taupe

    These bands are available now and cost $149.

    Hermès Bands

    When Apple unveiled the Apple Watch, one of the companies that they partnered with is Hermès.

    There are a few new Hermès bands available.

    38 mm versions

    • Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour
    • Fauve Barenia Leather Double Tour
    • Bleu Zéphyr Epsom Leather Double Tour

    42 mm versions

    • Lime Epsom Leather Single Tour
    • Colvert Swift Leather Single Tour
    • Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour

    These bands are available for $489 each.

    Software

    Beyond the the hardware updates and accessories, there were some software updates released as well. The first is everyone’s favorite software product, iTunes.

    The new version, 12.6, has one new feature, ‘Rent Once, Watch Anywhere’. This new feature will allow you to rent a movie on your iPhone you can watch it on your Apple TV.

    While in theory this should have been the way it worked before, but it was almost never the case. This requires iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2 in order to work.

    Clips

    One of the more modern change to the Internet, in the last 13 years, is the rise of social media. There have quite a number of social networks that have gone bust in the last 15 years. Some of these include Plurk, Friender, Peach, Orkut, and Pownce.

    Apple has attempted to create a social network, with Ping. Apple eventually realized that their attempt at a social network was not going to work, so they ended Ping. Instead of attempting to build another social network, Apple has done what they are good at, building applications. Apple has created a new application called Clips.

    Clips is an application that allows iOS users to create videos that have special effects. The application is very like other applications that are available. The key to Clips is that you can share the clips that you make with individuals through Messages, or by posting to Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, or even YouTube.

    If in one of your clips, a face from your Photo library is recognized, Clips will automatically suggest that you send the clip to the subject of the video.

    Clips will be available in early April on iOS. It will be a free application.

    Swift Playgrounds

    The last update, which is a minor one, but one that is much appreciated for some developers. Swift Playgrounds is now available in five more languages. These languages are:

    • Simplified Chinese
    • Japanese
    • French
    • German
    • Latin American Spanish

    The Swift Playgrounds update is available now.

    Final Thoughts

    These updates, while minor, are great updates for each of the product. This may just be a prelude to more announcements that may come in a few weeks.

  • iPhone 7 Plus: A Review

    The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, for all intents and purposes, are the tenth iPhone that Apple has released. The complete list is as follows:

    • Original iPhone
    • iPhone 3G
    • iPhone 3GS
    • iPhone 4
    • iPhone 4s
    • iPhone 5
    • iPhone 5s
    • iPhone 6/6 Plus
    • iPhone 6s/6s Plus
    • iPhone 7/7 Plus

    There have been a couple of others phones, the iPhone 5c, and iPhone SE. These are not in this list because the iPhone 5c had the same internals as the iPhone 5, with a plastic-colored back. The iPhone SE used the same form factor as the iPhone 4/4s/5/5s, but used the iPhone 6s internals. The iPhone 5c was a one-off product, and as of this writing, the iPhone SE is also a one-off product.

    One of the items that some may notice is that this is the first time that Apple has used the same general external design for the iPhone for a third year in a row. As Apple has indicated, using the same design for the third year has allowed them to perfect the design. The changes to the design include the moving of the antennas to the top and bottom of the phone’s case. One of the benefits of using the same design for three years running means that Apple knows the tolerances of the case extremely well. Knowing the case so well provides two different benefits. The first is that Apple is able to squeeze every millimeter out of the design and provide the best device possible. The second benefit for using the same design for a third year running is that for its 10th anniversary, the next iPhone can have a radical and entirely new design; which is rumored to be the case for next year’s iPhone. One of the things that Apple ended up removing from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is the headphone jack.

    Headphone Jack and Lightning to 3.5mm

    One of the items removed from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is the 3.5mm audio jack. The reason it was removed is two fold. The first is that one of the that Apple is able to make the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus water resistant, to some extent, by removing the headphone jack. The second The second reason is that Apple believes that the future for audio is wireless, and this is the first step to the future.

    Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter
    Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter

    The Lightning to 3.5mm adapter fulfills its purpose and provides a way to connect existing 3.5mm headphones to the iPhone 7 Plus. The adapter requires iOS 10, and will not work on iOS 9 nor any other devices with previous versions of iOS. On iOS 9, you will get the following dialog:

    headphone-jack-ios9

    However, On iOS 8, you will get no notification at all. No indication that there is even something plugged into the Lightning adapter. After using the lightning to 3.5mm adapter on my old EarPods, I attempted to plug in the lightning to 3.5mm adapter into my iPod touch running iOS 8, and briefly wondered why I did not hear anything coming out of the headphones. Hence, using the lightning headphones, or the lightning to 3.5mm adapter quickly becomes habit.

    You can use the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter on any iOS device running iOS 10 that has a headphone adapter. If you attempt to plug in both types of headphones, they will switch between them with the one that was plugged in last being the one that takes over.

    One of the side benefits of removing the headphone jack is that there should now be less interference since everything in the phone is digital. While the technology that I own may be advanced, my car, is not. My car is old enough to the point where there is not even an auxiliary jack to plug in a 3.5mm adapter. Instead, I have to rely on an FM transmitter to be able to play anything over my speakers. One of the things that I have noticed is that there has been a significant reduction in interference, as in I have not heard any. This was not the case at all with the iPhone 6s Plus.

    Downside

    The only downside to having the headphone jack removed is when you need to charge and still want to be able to listen at the same time. This has actually occurred a couple of times in the short while that I have had the phone. I am not opposed to dongles, and would really have liked to have seen Apple come out with a dongle that is capable of charging and listening at the same time. It likely would not be a cheap dongle, but for those of us who could use it, it would be very helpful. Belkin has filled the gap and the Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar dongle is available for pre-order.

    Overall the removal of the headphone jack may annoy some, but it is not been a big issue for me, excluding the desire to charge and listen at the same time. The removal of the headphone jack is not the only change that has been made, that relates to audio.

    Speakers

    Even though the iPhone has always included a set of headphones in the box, there are times that the use of headphones is not always convenient. Often during these times we end up resorting to use the built-in speakers with the iPhone. This could be so we can listen to music with others, or for any other myriad of reasons. The sappers in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have bene doubled. There is now a second speaker near the ear piece. The dual speakers do make the sound much better, since it is now stereo. Apple states that the new speakers make it twice as loud. Even if it is not twice as loud, it is still much louder than just having one speaker.

    While the bottom speaker outputs both high and low levels of audio, the bottom speaker tends to output more of the tones at the lower range of the auditory spectrum, while the top speaker puts out more of the high-end. It is possible that this is entirely due to the capabilities of each speaker cavity. There is more space at the bottom of the phone that could account for this differentiation. One way to test the difference is to cover up the bottom speaker and listen to something just out of the top speaker, and perform the same test with the top speaker covered and only exposing the bottom speaker.

    Even though both speakers are at different angles, the sound that emanates from them is pretty good. It is no where near as loud as the iPad Pro, but it is most definitely a vast improvement over previous iPhones. The changes in audio are not the only changes with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. There have been some changes around the cameras as well.

    Camera

    iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera
    iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera

    The Camera is one of the biggest selling points to any iPhone. Since the introduction of the first 5.5-inch phone in 2014 with the iPhone 6 Plus, the Plus camera has always had a single feature that differentiated it from the non-plus sized model. That feature has been Optical Image Stabilization. Optical Image Stabilization has allowed 6 Plus and 6s Plus owners to have slightly less blurry photos by providing a way to stabilize photos. The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 now has optical image stabilization as well as the iPhone 7 Plus. Here are a couple of examples of some photos. These are either the iPhone 7 Plus or the iPhone 6s Plus and will be labeled as to which camera they was used to shoot the photo.

    The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have a whole new camera. Instead of the previous five-lens camera, it now includes a brand new six-lens camera that has a ƒ/1.8 aperture. This is a wide-angle lens. The ƒ/1.8 is an improvement from the ƒ/2.2 aperture that was present in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus still has a slightly better camera setup, one that includes an entire second camera.

    The second camera on the iPhone 7 Plus has a 56mm telephoto lens that provides a feature not seen on an iPhone, optical zoom. The optical zoom allows a user to zoom to 2x. The 2x zoom, being an optical zoom, allows for close up photographs of anything. The second camera has a special mode that is designed just for it. Before we dive into the effect that requires the second camera, here are some examples of photos that have been taken with the digital zoom. These are alongside the non-zoomed pictures.

    iPod Touch 6th Generation
    iPod Touch 6th Generation
    iPhone 5
    iPhone 5
    iPhone 6s Plus
    iPhone 6s Plus
    iPhone 7 Plus
    iPhone 7 Plus

    Depth Effect

    During my testing, the iOS 10.1 beta was released. This update included the Depth, or Bokeh, effect feature that was announced during the September event, but was not available for the iOS 10 release. This effect will use the 56mm telephoto lens to take a picture and provide blurring of the background. This is similar to what many SLR cameras are capable of doing. This effect does produce some very intriguing and fun photos. The effect is intended to be used for portraits and is designed to look for faces, however the feature is also capable of being used on other objects as well.

    To be able to get the Depth Effect, there are a few parameters that are needed. The first is that the subject in the picture needs to be within eight feet of the camera. During my testing, I attempted to get a picture of a squirrel, but I could not get close enough to be able to take a picture of said squirrel, due to it being more than eight feet away.

    As of this writing, the depth effect is still in beta. Below are four pictures. Two with depth effect, and two without. Not to toot my own horn, but the ones without the depth effect are probably some of the best pictures I have ever taken with a camera, and I am definitely no photographer. Below are some examples of photos with and without the depth effect. If you click on any of the images, it should open up to the full size.

    Example 01 without depth effect
    Example 01 without depth effect
    Example 01 with depth effect
    Example 01 with depth effect
     
    Example 02 without depth effect
    Example 02 without depth effect
    Example 02 with the depth effect
    Example 02 with the depth effect
     

    As you can see from the pictures with the depth effect, there are still some issues. For example, the leaves along the left side are blurred, when in reality they should not be. For these photos, the depth effect is not really needed, so if I do end up using these images somewhere, I will not likely use the feature all that often.

    It is likely that Apple will fix some of these issues before the effect is no longer beta. One way that Apple could, in theory, allow enhancements to information later is to provide an option to save the raw image files along with the depth information, and then provide an option to create a new version of the files with any updated algorithm applied. I do not know if this is actually possible, but if it is, it could go a long way to providing even better pictures later on.

    FaceTime Camera

    One of the actions that Apple did not really anticipate was that people would want to take selfies. Because of this, the FaceTime camera was available until the iPhone 3GS. But this camera was only a VGA quality camera. There was a minor bump with the iPhone 5, to 1.2 megapixels, The camera on the iPhone 5s and even the iPhone 6 only saw very slight improvements. However, Apple got serious with the iPhone 6s and included a huge improvement to a 5 megapixel camera. The camera in the iPhone 7 and 7 plus is even better. The new FaceTime HD camera is a 7 megapixel camera that takes even bette pictures than before. The FaceTime HD camera has the same a ƒ/2.2 aperture as it had before.

    Wide Color

    One of the new features that was introduced in late 2015 was the 27-inch iMac that supported the DCI-P3 color gamut. The DCI-P3 color gamut allows for even richer colors than were previously available. At Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference keynote, Apple announced that iOS 10 would support this wide color gamut. This would be in preparation for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. These both support the Wide Color Gamut. The downside to this is that the only devices that have the wide color gamut, for now, are the 21.5-inch iMac, the 27-inch iMac, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the iPhone 7, and the iPhone 7 Plus. Over time this will change, but fight now, it is a limited set of devices that are able to display the wider color range.

    Color example for iPhone 6s Plus
    Color example for iPhone 6s Plus
    Color example iPhone 7 Plus
    Color example iPhone 7 Plus

    If you do not have a device that is able to see the wider color gamut, many pictures that have been taken on an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus will appear to be more saturated than other pictures.

    Home Button

    One of the changes made to enable the water resistance nature of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has been the new home button. The new home button is not a traditional button. It does not actually physically depress like previous iPhone home buttons did. Instead, there is a haptic feedback engine behind the home button that simulates the feel of a button press. More on the haptic engine in a bit.

    With the home button not being a physical button there is a slight change. With the new home button, the Touch ID sensor to detect that a finger is present. What this means is that your finger must be covering a bit more of the home button for it to function. This is in contrast to previous iOS devices where you could press down on a sliver of the button and it would work. It is a minor change, but one that any iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus owner should be aware of.

    Haptic Engine

    This engine is similar to the one that is present in the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and the Magic Trackpad 2. None of these devices actually has a physical button, and they all simulate the experience of a button press.

    With the new haptic feedback mechanism, you are able to select how intense the feedback is. When you set up an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, you will be given three options. Apple labels these as one, two, and three. However, they are better described as light, medium, and heavy intensities. You can select which intensity setting is best for you. Personally, I chose the most intense. No matter which setting you choose, this is what you will feel when you press the home button.

    One of the side benefits of the haptic engine is that developers are now able o incorporate a number of different vibrations into their applications. There are a total of 7 in all. Three notification indicators, Success, Warning, and Error; three “impact” intensities, light, medium, and heavy. The last vibration is a “default” vibration. The “default” vibration is a very slight, single vibration.

    The addition of the haptic engine will not only allow better notifications, but will also allow developers to be able to provide even richer experiences for their users, by incorporating feedback within their applications. This could be quite useful for game developers. I am hoping that many game developers add haptic feedback to their games.

    Apple has incorporated the vibration in a myriad of ways. For instance, when you tap on a toggle switch, it will vibrate. Similarly, when you pull to refresh, the phone will vibrate as well. Another example is within the keyboard. When you are using the keyboard, if you hold down on numerous keys, a popup for alternatives to the characters will appear, and these will have a very faint haptic feedback effect. All of these are system-wide and provided without a developer needing to do any work.

    There are some examples within Apple’s own applications, outside of the system-wide . For instance, within the music application, if you bring up the list of songs or artists, you will see the quick jump along the right side. If you move your finger up and down this list you will get some haptic feedback.

    While this may be the limit of what Apple has implemented, there are a lot more ways that developers can integrate the new haptic engine into their applications.

    Silicon Case

    When you are spending multi hundreds of dollars on a device, you want to be able to protect it. The basic way that most protect their device is with a case. Apple sells two of its own cases, the Silicon case, and the leather case. I have always opted for the silicon case and I did this time as well. Even the silicon case has changed a bit. Apple has included a suede or felt interior of the silicon case for the last few years. The case for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus seems to have a bit more lining on the interior. Given how susceptible the Jet Black Jet Black iPhone is to scratching, this is probably a decision specifically for that model more than any other. Even so, it will be a nice addition for all iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, even if they protect just a little bit more than before.

    iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 7 Plus cases
    iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 7 Plus cases

    Final Thoughts

    The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus provide a great upgrade for those who wish to upgrade their iPhone. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s, the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus may not seem like a huge upgrade, however with the new A10 Fusion processor, the speed increase will be extremely noticeable. The removal of the headphone jack has been a boon for being able to make the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus water resistant and dust resistant. The new dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus will be a boon for those who do not always want to carry, or those who do not know, a stand alone digital camera. If you own an iPhone 5s, or any prior phone, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are tremendous upgrades that will make your iPhone owning experience significantly better.

  • Apple’s September 2016 Event

    Apple held their annual Fall event earlier this week. The event was filled with both the expected, and a couple of very unexpected items. We’ll go over each of the items announced.

    iPhone 7

    Apple unveiled a slew of new features for their next iPhones, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The first thing that most people notice with any iPhone is the color. This year’s iPhones have two new colors, but one color is being retired. The new colors are Black and Jet Black. The remaining colors are Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold. This means that Space Grey is no longer in the line up. The Jet Black iPhone 7 is polished to a high gloss finish, and is very reflective. The standard Black iPhone 7 provides a more matte finish.

    The next thing that many would like to know about is the storage sizes of the iPhone. This year Apple’s has doubled the storage sizes. They are now 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. All iPhone 7 colors are available in these sizes, except the Jet Black. That is only available in 128GB and 256GB models. The pricing for the iPhone 7 is the same as the 6s and 6s Plus. They start at $649, if paying full price, or about $37 with Apple’s Upgrade Program.

    buystrip_iphone7_plus_large_2x

    One thing that most iPhone users have in common is that we have all dropped our iPhones at one point or another. Sometimes these drops are on a carpet and the dropped iPhone is no worse for wear. However, all to often the iPhone comes into contact with a water source. To help protect users, Apple has made the iPhone 7 water resistant. This has been done by re-engineering the seals that help protect the internals of the iPhone. This also comes from the design and being able to minimize the inputs on the iPhone 7.

    The second new feature is the new processor, the A10 Fusion. This goes above and beyond what was already done with the A9 processor. The A10 combines four processors, two of these are high performance processors, while the other two are lower performance. Apple’s own processor engine determines which processor is needed for which tasks. Applications like games, 3D Rendering, or any intensive application will be able to use the high performance processors. At the same time, applications like email, and Siri can use the lower performing processors. This is all handled by Apple’s own performance controller which will determine whether the application needs performance or battery life.

    Similar to the processing power is the graphical performance. The iPhone 7 has a six-core graphical processor that is capable of performing 50% faster than the A9, or even 3 times faster than the A8. One of the things that the graphics performance is needed for is the Camera. The iPhone 7 has a whole new set of cameras.

    The iPhone 7 now has optical image stabilization on both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. Besides this, there is a whole new camera assembly. The new camera uses an f/1.8 lens, that can take in even more light to create even better images. It is still a 12 Megapixel camera, however it is now 60% faster and consumes 30% less power. The two tone flash now has four LEDs to provide 50% more light. This is particularly useful in low light situations. The other new feature is a flicker sensor. The flicker sensor will be able to detect any errant light in the frame and will match that light so you will not end up with wavy lines in your photos. This is most useful if you try to capture an image off of your TV.

    On the iPhone 7 Plus, there is now a dual camera system. The camera mentioned above is the first the second lens is for telephoto pictures. The second camera has a 56mm lens that will allow you to zoom in. This is very simple to do. On the iPhone 7, there will be a software button, just above the sensor that will allow you to zoom in to 2x. This button will use the second lens to optically zoom. There is also software zoom available. This is accessible by holding on the software button and sliding to the right. This will zoom up to 10x. Anything above 2x is software zoom.

    One thing that many photographers want to be able to do with their iPhone is accurately capture and display the colors that are represented. The best way to be able to do this is to use the latest color display. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do just this by utilizing a new display that will show the DCI-P3 color gamut. This color gamut I’d already present on the late 2015 iMac as well as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. With the camera being able to take even more vivid colors, you will be able to get even better representations directly on your iPhone. These upgrades should also help if you are taking videos.

    The rear cameras were not the only ones to get upgraded. The FaceTime HD Camera has also been upgraded. It now is a 7 megapixel sensor that supports the same color gamut as the rear cameras, DCI-P3. The FaceTime HD camera also supports Auto Image stabilization to make sure that you can take the best pictures. Along with the 7 megapixel upgrade, the camera is now capable of recording in 1080p. This is up from the 720p recording capabilities on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

    The third new feature is actually the Home button. The Home button has been present since the original iPhone, but the Touch ID sensors within the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus now features a new taptic feature, similar to the Apple Watch. The new taptic feature allows feedback to be given for different actions. In conjunction with this, developers now have a new API for customizing the feedback given.

    One aspect to the iPhone that many take for granted is the audio. Many users end up having to use the speaker in their iPhones There have been two significant changes to audio. The first revolves around the speaker. The iPhone 7 now encompasses two speakers. One on the bottom and a second one on the top. This is the first time that an iPhone has had stereo speakers. The dual speaker setup means that users will now be able to hear even more from their iPhone. This is primarily due to the speakers also being twice as loud. The new speakers also have improved dynamic range which should improve the audio output of the iPhone 7.

    Many users use the EarPods that are bundled in with their iPhone. Apple is making a slight change to the EarPods. They will now have a lightning connector. With this change, the 3.5mm headphone connection has been removed. Do not fret too much though, included in the box is a lightning to 3.5mm adapter for those who will continue to need the connection. With the headphones now being lightning, the quality of the output should be even better. However, this setup still requires wires. Apple is bullish on a wireless future. To help usher in this new era they have created a new type of headphone, the AirPods.

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    The Apple AirPods take Apple’s work with the EarPods and brings them forward. The AirPods look just like EarPods sans the wires. The AirPods are able to hold a five hour charge. This may not seem like much, and it may not be. But, the AirPods come with a charging case that can charge the AirPods for up to 24 hours. The AirPods can be charged in the charging case via a lightning cable. A fifteen minute charge will give you three hours of battery life with the AirPods.

    The AirPods have a brand new chip inside of them, the Wireless1, or W1. The W1 chip has some features that many users will find compelling. The W1 chip contains an accelerometer so it can sense when it is being used and only play sound when it detects it is in use. Alongside this, there is also a voice accelerometer to be able to recognize voice as well as beam forming microphones to be able to reduce outside noise so if you are on a call, you will sound clearer.

    The last piece to the W1 chip, and the AirPods, is pairing. If you have tried to use Bluetooth with multiple devices, you know that switching between the two devices can be a painful process. Apple has decided to take this method and make it easier. When you place the AirPods near your iPhone 7, and open the top to the AirPods you will be presented with a dialog asking if you want to pair. You simply tap “Pair” and the two items are paired. That is it. The AirPods will also be paired with your Apple Watch, if one is paired with your iPhone. That s not all, all of your pairing information will be synchronized over iCloud to your Macs as well, meaning that you will be able to seamlessly switch between your Macs, iPhone and Apple Watch.

    The AirPods are not the only headphones to get this technology. The new Beats Solo 3 Wireless, Powerbeats 3, and the new Beats X lines will all have the W1 chip built right in. This means that you will be able to seamlessly pair and switch your Beats between your iPhone, Apple Watch, and Macs.

    Apple is keeping the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in the iPhone lineup as well. These prices are now $549 for the iPhone 6s and $649 for the iPhone 6s Plus. The storage for these starts at 32GB, this is double the previous base of 16GB. There is only one other storage option for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, that is 128GB. These cost $649 and $749 respectively. This means that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are no longer in the lineup.

    The iPhone 7 will be a fantastic upgrade for all users. That is not the only new product announced by the Apple. The next product is the Apple Watch.

    Apple Watch

    The Apple Watch was introduced 18 months ago. In that time it has become the number one selling smart watch and the second best selling watch by revenue. Apple has improved the Apple Watch, with the new Apple Watch Series 2.

    The Series 2 includes a brand new processor, the S2. The S2 chip is now dual-core and allows for even faster processing. Besides being dual-core, the S2 now also includes a GPS. The GPS will be very beneficial for users who want to track their exercises. The GPS can be used without an iPhone accompanying it. The Apple Watch Series 2 also has a brighter screen. In fact, it is twice as bright as the previous Series 1 screen. The brighter screen will make it even easier to see in a brightly lit area. This was not the only change to the Apple Watch Series 2.

    Just like the iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 2 is also water resistant. The Apple Watch Series 2 is water resistant up to 50 meters. This makes it great for swimming, snorkeling, or even just tooling around the pool. Being water resistant meant that Apple had to redesign the seals and internals in order to protect the watch. The one area that had to remain opened is the speaker. Apple took a clever turn with this. the speaker itself is designed to the water out of the Apple Watch when you are done in the water.

    With the water resistance of the Apple Watch, this also allows for two new exercises to be added. These do relate to the water. There are now two swimming related, one for pool swimming and one for open water swimming. The difference is that the pool exercise will take into account laps.

    The Apple Watch Series 2 will cost $369 for the 38mm version and $399 for the 42mm version.

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    Apple has partnered with a couple of companies, Nike and Hermes to bring some new products. The Nike+ Apple Watch comes in four colors, and is designed for those who really want to exercise. The cases consist of an aluminum case and perforated bands and come in two colors, Space Grey and Silver. The Nike+ watches cost the same as the Apple Watch Series 2 watches, at $369 for the 38mm and $399 for the 42mm version. The Hermes partnership bring two new bands, a new Single Tour and Double Tour bands.

    There is also Apple Watch Edition Series 2 watch. It is no longer the Yellow and Rose Gold. Instead it is made of White Ceramic. The Apple Watch Edition is only available in White, and will cost $1249 for the 38mm version and $1299 for the 42mm version.

    The Apple Series 1 watch also received a slight upgrade, only to the processor. It now has the same dual-core processor that is present in the Apple Watch Series 2. The price for the Apple Series 1 is $269 for the 38mm and $299 for the 42mm watches.

    The Apple Watch Series 2 is a solid upgrade, particularly for those that are focused on fitness. The addition of the GPS to the Apple Watch Series 2 will be much needed to alleviate the need to carry and iPhone while out exercising.

    Nintendo

    The biggest surprise of the event was that a Nintendo executive appeared on Stage. The executive that appeared on stage was not just ANY executive, Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on stage. Miyamoto is the brains behind iconic games like Donkey Kong, the Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Brothers. At the event Miyamoto announced a new application coming to iOS that includes a Nintendo property. That application is Super Mario Run. Super Mario Run is a side-scroller, just like the Classic Mario games, except that it is an endless runner.

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    Super Mario Run is able to be played with one hand. The game play consists of tapping to make Mario jump, or tapping and holding to have Mario jump higher. The goal is to get to the flag before time runs out, just like in the classic Mario games.

    This is not the only mode. There is also a battle mode, where you can face off against other players. You can try and beat their time, and there will be a ghost of their run to see how they completed the run. The coins that you collect will help you add items to your own Mushroom Kingdom.

    Mario Super Run will be available in December. The game will be free with one in-app purchase to unlock all of the content. Once you buy the in-app purchase, you will have the entire game.

    This was not the only announcement that was made that involved Nintendo. Niantic, the company behind the popular Pokemon Go application also had an announcement. Their announcement was that Pokemon Go was coming to the Apple Watch. This change means that those who are out hunting Pokemon no longer have to have their phone open all of the time. Users are now able to be notified on their watch that there are Pokemon to catch along side being notified that their eggs are hatched. This change should make it easier for people not only to pay attention to their surroundings, but also save some battery life.

    Final Thoughts

    Apple’s September 7th Event was one that provided a solid update with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus will be a boon for those who enjoy using their iPhone as a camera. The increased battery life, while maintaining the same form factor will be great for all users.

    The new AirPods are just the beginning of a new era in technology for Apple. The ability to charge the airPods quickly and provide an additional 3 hours of battery should help some get through an entire work day with their AirPods.

    The surprise of having Nintendo and Niantic both appear on stage brought audible gasps and claps, and may just be the beginning of a very fruitful collaboration between Nintendo and Apple. Pre-orders are live now, but you will end up having to wait to get a device.