October 16, 2018

iPhone XS (Max)

I usually write my review of the new iPhones about a week after I get one of the new devices, but this time around, I just kept using and trying out the different features of the iPhone. Now, I want to give you my thoughts on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

When it comes right down to it, the XS and Max are exactly the same iPhone, except for the size. All of the internals, cameras, and design provide you with the same experience. The only real difference is the display size, but that’s a big difference.

For me, there is a clear winner in the size comparisons to these iPhones—it’s the XS Max. The Max is the perfect iPhone for me—the bigger screen allows me to see everything I need, and I a lot of the time I don’t even need to put on my reading glasses to see everything.

My favorite iPhone before this was the “Plus” versions because of the bigger size, but the Max takes that to a whole new level. The case size of the Plus and Max are basically the same, but the Max is all screen, whereas the Plus had that prominent chin and forehead.

Some people don’t like the “compromise” of not having one-handed control using the iPhone Max and prefer the XS model. That’s fair, I guess, but when I look at how I use the iPhone, I don’t tend to use one hand for anything but scrolling. Ultimately, the amount of time I use one hand doesn’t make up for the extra screen size I get with the Max.

When I type on the iPhone, I use two hands regardless of the model I’m using. I scroll using my thumb on the same hand I’m holding the iPhone with, and other tasks like pinch and zoom require both hands. Size wins out for me.

The camera on both XS models is magnificent. If you’ve listened to my podcasts, you know I’m not a great photographer, so I need all the help I can get.

Part of the reason I didn’t post this sooner is that I was waiting for a live concert to take some pictures. I was scheduled to see Ozzy Osbourne last weekend, but he canceled, so I don’t have any low light shots to show, but I do have some experience in a different lighting situation.

I went to a San Jose Sharks game on the opening night with some friends. If you’ve been to a hockey game, you know it’s terrible for lighting—actually, there is too much light on a white ice surface, which just destroys your pictures.

We all took turns with the XS Max camera and the iPhone X camera—the difference was stunning. Using the iPhone X, the picture of my friends turned out okay, but the background was really bright white, and you couldn’t make out the people in the crowd on the other side of the rink. They were just blotted out by the white lights, and I assume reflections from the ice.

The Max was able to minimize the effects of the white ice and lighting, so you could easily make out people on the other side of the rink, and even signs they were holding. Even in this unnatural environment, the picture seemed more natural. (I don’t have these pics to show either—another long story.)

The bottom line with the camera is that the Smart HDR Apple developed for the iPhone cameras really works. Even the most average of photographers will benefit from this camera.

Of course, there are a lot of other advanced features with the new cameras like bokeh (background blur), depth control, and Quad-LED True Tone flash. All of these features are designed to bring you the best pictures possible, and they do.

As someone who listens to music on my iPhone a lot, I was impressed with the new stereo speakers. The speakers are loud, clear, and they provide you with a broader stereo sound than any previous generation. I even found myself turning the volume down a bit on the Max.

As an aside, a friend asked why I listen to music on my iPhone so much. The only reason I can think of is so that when I’m listening to a great playlist or station, and I go for a walk or a drive, I can just continue listening. I don’t actually know why I listen to music so much on my iPhone, but I do.

I would like to touch on one thing—iPhone XR. I’ve heard people say that the iPhone XR will hurt sales of the XS and Max. I don’t believe that to be true. I think the majority of people that were going to buy the XS models are still going to buy those models. There are a few that will want to be a little different and get an XR for the color option, and that’s fine.

The iPhone XR is going to bring in a whole new group of people that want a large screen iPhone but don’t want to pay the additional cost of the XS. The XR is a fantastic iPhone in its own right, but I don’t think sales of one model is going to hurt the others.

There’s a lot to like about this year’s three iPhone models. There are a ton of upgraded features, from the processor to the camera, and the display. There is nothing I’ve seen in my time of using these devices that would make me hold back on recommending either of the two new iPhones.

iPhoneography Central:

My selections this week from our Flickr group return to one of my favorite themes (so much so that I have to keep trying to come up with original names for them) – black on white, otherwise known as the B&W photo.

A lot of beginners shy away from black and white shots, thinking they are intimidating and hard to do. But with a little practice and some of the cool apps as described in this article, you should give B&W shots a try!

Wired:

Ive, who was interviewed at the summit by Anna Wintour, the artistic director of Condé Nast and longtime editor of Vogue, talked about everything from Apple’s penchant for secrecy to the social and civic responsibilities of tech giants, which today possess not only powerful sway over the media landscape but a strong grip on the attentions of billions of people. In fact, Wintour’s opening question directly confronted Apple’s contribution to digital dependence. “First there were iPhones, and now there’s iPhone addiction,” said Wintour. “How do you feel about that? Is the world too connected?”

Ive—who, while known for being shy, is also notoriously loquacious—responded succinctly: “I think it’s good to be connected. I think the real question is what you do with that connection.”

Another interesting interview with Ive and I couldn’t agree with him more on the above. “Connection” isn’t bad in and of itself.

Uncrate:

Michel Parbot’s The Empire Strikes Back documentary has been somewhat of a Star Wars urban legend. His behind-the-scenes footage was believed to have been lost — until now. Almost 40 years an auction sale later, the entire film has surfaced and it was worth the wait. The video offers nearly a full hour of on-set clips, interviews, and some of the vintage special effects work that brought the movie to life.

Star Wars fans rejoice!

Great, detailed, hands-on look at the coming version of Photoshop for iPad. This is the real deal, a version of Photoshop that uses the cloud to share files between your Mac and your iPad.

Watch the video, embedded below, follow the headline link for the Verge review.

Reddit:

Basically, a failure involving iPhone and local carrier TIM has made iPhone owners wake up 1 hour earlier today.

That’s because the smartphone adjusted automatically for daylight saving time, but that year the start of the DST was postponed to November due to the second round of presidential elections and the National High School Exam.

A small fraction of Android users was affected, but problem hit mainly iPhone users.

That’s a major oops. I wonder if Apple has a mechanism in place to deal with time changes like this.

Craig Grannell:

The standard macOS interface has quite a few semi-transparent elements, which like frosted glass provide a glimpse of what’s beneath them. At Apple events, execs go giddy about how pretty this is. In use, these elements vary from being distracting to outright dangerous. For example, if you have a motion-sickness issue and an animating web page is sitting behind a semi-transparent element, it can take a while before you realise it’s affecting you, by which time it’s too late and you’re already dizzy.

And:

“Fine”, says Apple, grumpily, “so just turn on Reduce transparency”. Only it’s not that simple. Because when you do, Apple designers get in a strop and hurl logic out of the window. What you’d expect to happen is for macOS to remove the semi-transparent bits. So instead of Finder sidebars or the macOS app switcher showing what’s beneath them, they’d just have a neutral solid background. Nope. Instead, in its infinite wisdom, Apple’s decided those components should instead be coloured by your Desktop background.

Stephen Hackett put together a few screenshots to show off this effect.

To me, this sort of thing happens due to lack of a specific branch of testing. Seems to me, someone at Apple should reach out to Craig Grannell and ask him (and other leaders in the accessibility community) to beta test new software/hardware early in the cycle, so they have time to address these sorts of issues. I believe accessibility testing would be greatly enhanced by voices, hands, eyes of real world experience.

Wow. Just wow.

There’s a lot of anger in this riveting piece, but don’t be quick to dismiss Morgan’s story. Lots of lessons learned, and I suspect you might recognize some of the behavior he encountered in people in your universe.

[H/T Khaled]

Follow the link to see Apple’s original bagel emoji, and the new “fixed” version. While the new version is undoubtedly better (everything is better with a shmear of cream cheese), it still (IMO) falls far short of truly reflecting a real life bagel.

And that said, I do recognize how trivial this is. But I was born with a deep, familial appreciation of bagels, so this hits home for me.

I think the bagel Wikipedia page has some images that might be a good starting point for rev 3. The key is texture.

CNBC:

The University of North Carolina’s medical school will soon be starting a study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative, to better understand overeating. People with binge eating disorder often eat large amounts of food uncontrollably in a small period of time.

And:

Each participant will be given a free watch, courtesy of Apple, and researchers will monitor their heart rate using the device’s sensor over the course of a month to see if there are spikes before binge eating episodes. It’s likely that a binging and purging episode would cause some biological change that would show up in the Apple Watch data, according to Bulik.

As the capabilities of the Apple Watch grow, as more sensors are added, we should see more and more of these sorts of studies. Terrific use of technology.

October 15, 2018

Mr. Allen, who in 1975 set up with Bill Gates the company that became known as Microsoft, died Monday from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Seattle, according to a statement from his family.

Very sad.

My thanks to Bare Bones Software for sponsoring The Loop this week. Do you sling code or compose with words? Whether you’re an app developer, web developer, systems admin or just want a powerful writing tool that stays out of your way, BBEdit is worth checking out.

I’ve been using BBEdit since 1995, so I know first hand that it can handle any job I throw at it.

BBEdit is crafted in response to the needs of writers, web authors, and software developers, providing an abundance of high-performance features for editing, searching, and the manipulation of text.

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VentureBeat:

Google today announced that the camera within the Translate app for iOS and Android is now able to translate 13 new languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Thai, and Vietnamese. The update is available starting today and will be rolled out to Translate users worldwide in the coming days, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

Translation of text seen in photos or in real-time on billboards or menus was added for Google Translate in 2015, and started with 27 languages. To carry out visual translations, simply open the Translate app and choose the camera icon. Translations can be carried out in real time.

As I do research for a (belated) honeymoon in Florence, Italy and my photography workshop in Lisbon, Portugal, I’ve been testing the Google Translate app and I’m very impressed at how well it does. I don’t speak Italian or Portuguese so I don’t know how accurate the translations are but they are definitely good enough to get the basic idea.

Slate:

Of all the weird and frankly nonsensical practices that companies use in hiring, probably none are as bizarre as our conventions around negotiating salary. Given that paying employees money in exchange for their labor is what hiring is all about, you’d think that salary would be discussed early, clearly, and directly in any hiring process. But for some reason that approach is more the exception than the rule. Instead, many employers play coy games around salary, hiding what they plan to pay and even taking offense when candidates bring up money.

On the job seeker side of the equation, candidates tend to be very interested in what a gig pays—which makes sense, since most people aren’t seeking jobs out of the kindness of their hearts or a desire to be industrious. But employers frequently refuse to discuss a position’s salary range until late in a hiring process, or sometimes not even until they make a formal job offer. Meanwhile, though, they’re often happy to push—or even require—candidates to show their hand by naming a number first.

As a freelancer, I’ve been in this position many times and my wife, who is researching jobs in anticipation of our move to Australia next year, is getting the same runaround in her searches as well. It’s really frustrating and stressful.

Ars Technica:

Early in the platform’s life—long before the release of the Apple TV 4K, which has very attractive specifications for game development—Apple lifted the requirement that games support its controller. But the first impression had already been made. And even if developers could release games that required a controller, the lack of a controller bundle for games-minded Apple TV buyers meant that developers couldn’t feel confident they’d find a large audience that could play their games.

But there’s more going on here than just controller support. To find out more, we talked to the people who would have the most complete perspective on the Apple TV’s video game credentials.

Games have been a bastard stepchild at Apple. The company has always given mixed messages to game developers regarding how much the company is willing to support them in their efforts.

Digital Camera World:

Adobe’s dream is that you will be able to open and edit a PSD (Photoshop format image file) on an iPad and then carry on working on it seamlessly on your desktop computer, or the other way round. This would be a major step forward, avoiding the need to export/import files, convert them to different formats or overcome inconsistencies in tools and effects.

The company’s engineers have already carried out ‘proof of life’ experiments using the same underlying Photoshop code and algorithm’s on an iPad and are now ready to launch a 1.0 version for Apple’s tablet devices.

This is one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” stories but if it is true, it will be an amazing leap in functionality for many Photoshoppers who want to use their iPads to edit.

Tim Hortons’ “The Away Game”

Tim Hortons:

There’s only one hockey team in all of Kenya. They had nobody to play. So, we brought them to Canada for an unforgettable game.

Everyone knows how important hockey is to Canada and Canadians. For almost every Canadian kid, our memories of youth hockey are intertwined with Tim Hortons. After every practice or game, your coach would take you to “Timmies” for a hot chocolate and a doughnut. Tim Hortons probably sponsored your team. So, even though I despise their coffee (but love their doughnuts), I’ll always have a soft spot for Tim Hortons. If I was feeling homesick when I lived in Connecticut, I’d ride my motorcycle a couple hours north to the nearest Tim Hortons for a doughnut.

I still hated their coffee though.

Foo Fighters bring 10-year old on stage, get him to play Metallica’s Enter Sandman

This is magical. Stick with it to the very end where the kid gets a gift.

Motherboard:

But Face ID can of course also work against law enforcement—too many failed attempts with the ‘wrong’ face can force the iPhone to request a potentially harder to obtain passcode instead. Taking advantage of legal differences in how passcodes are protected, US law enforcement have forced people to unlock their devices with not just their face but their fingerprints too. But still, in a set of presentation slides obtained by Motherboard this week, one company specialising in mobile forensics is telling investigators not to even look at phones with Face ID, because they might accidentally trigger this mechanism.

We had passcodes, then fingerprints, then faces, the evolution of biometric mechanisms used to unlock you phone. Will this evolution continue? Or is Face ID the final stop?

No matter, this is a knotty problem on all sides. Protect privacy, but make it effortless to unlock a phone.

William Gallagher, writing for Apple Insider, posts a fascinating look at John Sculley’s rise and fall at Apple. Terrific read. Don’t miss the video embedded in the “Sculley joins Apple” section, in which John Sculley tells the story of his iconic Pepsi marketing campaign that no-doubt caught Steve Jobs’ eye.

Some interesting Screen Time hacks here. Here’s just a taste:

His son, a seven-year-old, deletes the games he’s been locked out of and then re-downloads it from the App Store. With iCloud, he doesn’t miss a beat, as all of his games are stored on a server waiting for him to resume play. Apple, unfortunately, overlooked this clever hack entirely. Once the game is re-downloaded, it starts the clock over again for the day.

Kids!

Spaces has been around since Mac OS X Leopard (2007), but if you’ve never used it, you are not alone. Take a few minutes to read through this terrific walkthrough by William Gallagher. It might just make you a Spaces fan.

October 14, 2018

Nikon Small World:

The Nikon International Small World Competition first began in 1975 as a means to recognize and applaud the efforts of those involved with photography through the light microscope. Since then, Small World has become a leading showcase for photomicrographers from the widest array of scientific disciplines.

Incredible photography. I had a blast playing, “Guess What It Is?” with my son this morning. Thanks to Dave Mark for the link.

October 12, 2018

The Dalrymple Report: Apple TV content, a rocket, and Ozzy with Dave Mark

Dave Mark and I explore the latest rumors surrounding Apple’s foray into video content, and talk about a failed rocket launch and Ozzy cancelling his concert.

Brought to you by:

ZipRecruiter: You know what’s NOT SMART? 
Job sites that overwhelm you with tons of the wrong resumes.

But you know what is smart? Going to ZipRecruiter.com/dalrymple.

Subscribe to this podcast

Rick Stein:

Rick Stein, 71, of Wilmington was reported missing and presumed dead on September 27, 2018 when investigators say the single-engine plane he was piloting, The Northrop, suddenly lost communication with air traffic control and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rehoboth Beach.

“The sea was angry that day,” said NTSB lead investigator Greg Fields in a press conference. “We have no idea where Mr. Stein may be, but any hope for a rescue is unlikely.”

Stein’s location isn’t the only mystery. It seems no one in his life knew his exact occupation.

May we all live a life that deserves an obituary like this.

Reddit:

This is probably the most bizarre issue I’ve had in my career in IT. One of our multi-practice facilities is having a new MRI installed and apparently something went wrong when testing the new machine. We received a call near the end of the day from the campus stating that none of their cell phones worked after testing the new MRI. My immediate thought was that the MRI must have emitted some sort of EMP, in which case we could be in a lot of trouble.

After going out there we discovered that this issue only impacted iOS devices. iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watches were all completely disabled (or destroyed?).

GE claims that the helium is what impacts the iOS devices which makes absolutely no sense to me. I know liquid helium is used as a coolant for the super-conducting magnets, but why would it only effect Apple devices?

What a crazy story. Be sure to check out one of the follow up posts.

Pocket:

We want to help our users be able to read more—and more comfortably—on Pocket, even when on the go. How? Today we’re excited to announce Pocket’s updated listen feature and an enhanced reading experience.

We redesigned Pocket to make reading more comfortable. The new typography and user interface are designed to make long reads easier on your eyes. For night owls, the dark theme is designed for better night reading.

The folks at my favourite “read it later” service have redesigned their iOS app. Like most old farts, I generally hate redesigns – at least until I get used to them. I use Pocket a lot (I’ve been in their “Top 1% of Readers” for the past 4 years) so when I heard about the redesign, I knew I was going to hate it.

But, in fact, I actually like it. It does make reading easier and the UI is better, in my opinion.

New York Times:

Most of the time, The New York Times asks you to read something. Today we are inviting you, simply, to look. On this page you will find maps showing almost every building in the United States.

Why did we make such a thing? We did it as an opportunity for you to connect with the country’s cities and explore them in detail. To find the familiar, and to discover the unfamiliar.

This is a remarkable visualization of this data.

Closeup of gulper eel is like a cartoon, and something out of a nightmare

Just watch.

This piece is on the 1Password blog, so it’s got a bit of marketing woven in, but it does a nice job of highlighting some of the fine work done by the Mac App Store team, and the work on the iOS App Store before it.

I absolutely love the Mac App Store’s evolving look and layout, especially when you’ve got Dark Mode in place.

Take a read through the piece, get a sense of the things that make the new App Store so much better.