Continuing in a similar vein, Dieter Bohn, The Verge: Called “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” it has the three historical enemies learning to make friends with each other. It’s a story of three soon-to-be friends overcoming school bullying, and it’s fine so far as it goes. But trust me when I say that trying to map this metaphor too closely to the battle for marketshare between Samsung, Sony, LG, and all the rest is going to send you in deeply nerdy and ultimately unfulfilling circles. If Paper is LG, are we watching the G5 mock the G4 only to be saved by Scissors, aka the Samsung Galaxy S7? Seriously — let the metaphor go. Honestly the best part of the ad is that is unapologetically brings back the rock anthem St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr. Maybe the Android marketing team had something else in mind. Maybe the message was ‘Let’s not fight among ourselves and start coexisting; Android helps you do just that’. Some part of me wants to think that was the intended message here and they simply didn’t think this piece of crap through. I, for one, certainly came away from this thinking a bunch of Samsungs were beating the crap out of a particular Samsung, only to be saved by an L.G. To paraphrase what Dieter says in the quoted text: If your ad is best enjoyed with your eyes closed, you should probably rethink it 1. At least their previous ad actually made sense. 1. On a bright note, the Scissors has threads between the blades to represent ‘hair’. I suppose the team has some sense of humour.↩
Benjamin Mayo, 9To5Mac: Microsoft is currently running a new series of ads featuring ‘The Bug Chicks’, with each ad directly targeting a weakness in Apple’s Mac operating system. Kristie and Jess, curiously labelled as ‘real people paid for real opinions’, walk through several ways that Windows 10 helps them teach kids about bugs and the microscopic world. […] The videos show the teachers drawing a sketch of a bug on the PowerPoint project using their finger, with an immediate jab at Mac hardware: ‘I don’t have a touchscreen on my Mac, I’m jealous of that’. Believe me, I do find puns annoying but I couldn’t help sniggering over the fact that Microsoft ran an advert relating bugs and Windows.
Fred Lambert, 9To5Mac: If there’s indeed a poaching chess game going on between Tesla and Apple, it would appear the automaker is winning in acquiring quality pieces. […] Beyond its implications in furthering the so-called poaching war between Tesla and Apple, Bannon joining Tesla raises a very interesting question: Does Tesla plan to design its own processors? Some part of me hopelessly wanted there to be a graveyard joke thrown in somewhere in this story. Also, it’s ironic that 9To5 Mac’s headline refers to Bannon (the chip architect who Tesla hired) as a ‘chip architecture titan‘.
Mark Gurman, 9to5Mac (3 days ago, via. Gruber): At the time, we heard that Apple would call the device the “iPhone 5se” based on it being both an enhanced and “special edition” version of the iPhone 5s. Now, we are hearing that Apple appears to be going all in on the special edition factor: sources say that Apple has decided to drop the “5” from the device’s name and simply call it the “iPhone SE.” This change in naming, crucially, places the new iPhone as ‘an entirely new iPhone’ and not merely a successor to the iPhone 5S. Further: Sources say that the dropping of the “5” from the name also simplifies the iPhone lineup as bringing back an iPhone “5” variant amid the iPhone “6” lifecycle could potentially confuse customers. Great point. The name ‘SE’ still doesn’t feel Apple-y though. I’d say just call it ‘iPhone E’ (Edition) but such a name would be incoherent with current Apple Watch naming-conventions where ‘Edition’ implies luxury and limited availability.
Arnold Kim, MacRumors: […] the 4-inch iPhone will incorporate Live Photo support, but not 3D Touch, which is considered a flagship feature for the iPhone 6s line. Sure 3D Touch would be a distinguishing feature on the iPhones 6S but I also think that the size of the Taptic Engine (linear actuator) present in the 6S would prove problematic to port over as-is. iFixit’s tear down shows that the Taptic Engine is slightly longer than half the width of the iPhone 6S. Internal space is going to be a big factor at play here; more so than previously. Also, I’m curious about the weight and thickness of this phone.
Ben Jovejoy, 9to5Mac: FBI director James Comey – who had previously claimed that “the San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent” – has now admitted that it would. The Guardian reports that Comey made the admission when testifying under oath yesterday to a Congress committee. The ultimate outcome of the Apple-FBI showdown is likely to “guide how other courts handle similar requests”, James Comey told a congressional intelligence panel on Thursday, a softening of his flat insistence on Sunday that the FBI was not attempting to “set a precedent”. Asked if it was true that police departments around the country also wanted to gain access to locked iPhones, he agreed that it was The article’s title points that Republicans and the public still sides with the FBI. It’s sad, but one can’t blame ordinary citizens who are technologically-uninformed and unaware of the the technical implications of this case for not jumping ship in the face of an inconsistency when their hearts are heavy with sympathy towards victims and the FBI lays a ‘simple solution’ (that Apple build and exploit a backdoor) in front of them.
Mark Gurman, 9to5 Mac: Apple will further differentiate the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad from its predecessor by making it part of the new iPad Pro line, according to sources. Much like the MacBook Pro comes in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, the iPad Pro will soon come in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch variations. This trend follows Apple not calling its 12-inch MacBook a new Air despite developing the product as an apparent successor to the MacBook Air. […] […] we have learned that Apple is preparing a smaller version of its Smart Keyboard cover attachment for the new model, and it likely will be ready for March. Like the 12.9-inch models, quad stereo speakers will be part of the hardware. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is also expected to come in the same colors and storage capacities as the larger iPad Pro, but the pricing will be closer in line with the iPad Air models it will succeed. I am not quite sure how to feel about this. Essentially, what Mark is reporting is that this upcoming iPad is a part of the ‘Pro’ line of iPads (whether it will be named as so or just categorised as such isn’t clear) since it has every element of the iPad Pro that made it ‘Pro’ minus the bigger screen. ‘iPad Pro Mini’ just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe they call it something different instead. The iPad Mini 4 was everything the iPad Air 2 was in a smaller body (Apple said so themselves) and it didn’t end up being a part of the Air line. Additionally, it’s unsettling to think of the new iPad to ship with the A9X specifically (despite my previous cursory assent). To make my case, let me quote Anandtech’s iPad Pro review: Diving into the heart of the iPad Pro, we have Apple’s latest generation tablet SoC, A9X. Like the other Apple X series SoCs before it, A9X is by and large an enhanced and physically larger version of Apple’s latest phone SoC, taking advantage of the greater space and heat dissipation afforded by a tablet to produce a more powerful SoC. The A9X was essentially building upon the foundations of the the A9 (introduced with the iPhone 6S) and a huge part of that was increasing the die size (the surface area of the processor). That’s fine when your housing is as gargantuan as the iPad Pro. In a 9.7-inch housing heat dissipation might be a problem. And this new iPad is apparently also shipping with the quad-speaker system present on the iPad Pro; internal space will be more crucial than ever. Besides, the processor on this new iPad shouldn’t have to push as many pixels as the iPad Pro, provided the current Air 2 resolution is retained (if it isn’t all of this is a moot point anyway). Maybe the new iPad does ship with an A9X under the hood but I’ll wager it isn’t an exact replica of the one presently in the iPad Pro.
Matt Gemmell wrote last year how Apple’s 2015 Macbook is the perfect laptop for him, owing, primarily, to the Macbook’s keyboard. Here’s an excerpt: This is a computer for those privileged enough to be able to use it. I’m not talking about money, but rather the freedom to not care about the areas where it might be suboptimal for others. It’s for people who are lucky enough that this kind of machine doesn’t demand compromise. That’s me. I have modest performance needs; the battery lasts all day; I don’t care about ports and connectors. The screen is gorgeous, and more than big enough. The keyboard suits me well. This thing is for the most casual of users, or those whose work can happily masquerade as casual use: the writers, journalists, bloggers, and the like. For them, and maybe you – and definitely me – it’s the ideal laptop. For more context, here’s Jim Dalrymple for The Loop: The 12-inch MacBook has the best keyboard I’ve ever used. Yes, it took a couple of days to get used to it, but once I did, I never wanted to go back. […] MacBook is incredibly small and light, but it has really long battery life—this is thanks to the newly redesigned batteries, made specifically for this computer. The batteries are layered, meaning that every space in the computer, except for the CPU, is reserved for a battery. I concede with these gentlemen to the fullest. Whenever I visit a local ‘Apple Store’, I always take the time out to get my fingers typing on the Macbook’s keyboard. I used to write full-time on my iPad back then and I didn’t undergo as much of a knee-jerk reaction most people have when switching to the new, shallow-but-stable keyboard. Additionally, and I know I am being sacrilegious, I love the Force Touch trackpad. Not for the crappy Force Touch abilities in OS X but because it does away with the diving-board mechanism of its predecessors. Let me elaborate: I type on my Macbook Pro with my thumbs resting on the spacebar and the base of my palms resting on either side of the trackpad. When I need to click, I lift my hand, rest my index finger on the trackpad, trace and then click. With the Force Touch trackpad, I can simply trace my thumb on the upper edge (the one closest to the spacebar) of the trackpad and click with ease. I don’t need to lift my wrist. I find this incredibly useful. Unfortunately, I rely heavily on Xcode for my Udacity course and that makes me weary of buying solely the 2015 Macbook as my next machine. Its shortcomings don’t bother me in the slightest. This post on Martian craft’s excellent blog written by Rob Rhyne is some consolation: For me, I wanted a small computer that I could take with me everywhere and I can’t write code on the iPad. The MacBook gives me a fully capable computer, running the Mac OS — an OS built for creative people. By getting the MacBook to work as a workbench for designing and developing applications, I can take my creative work more places. It also provides a more focused work environment. In this article, I describe how I removed superfluous UI and hid window chrome out of the way. You only need to do this once, then only the essentials needed to complete the job remain. Uncluttered. Perfect. How I long for Xcode on the iPad.
If you don’t know anything on this matter yet, Apple essentially discontinued support for users of the iPad Pro to interact with iOS using the Apple Pencil, the way they would use their finger. Say, swiping between home-screens – when the Pencil debuted, you were allowed such interactions; iOS 9.3 betas disabled them. This was, understandably, a big problem for users who either got accustomed to such interaction or, like CGP Grey, actually need Pencil-navigation to prevent RSI. You can listen to Grey make his case on the latest Cortex episode. Apple has since come out with a statement that says that Pencil navigation will, in fact, return in one of the betas in future. Here’s the statement (and it’s vital for the arguments that follow) : We believe a finger will always be the primary way users navigate on an iPad, but we understand that some customers like to use Apple Pencil for this as well and we’ve been working on ways to better implement this while maintaining compatibility during this latest beta cycle. We will add this functionality back in the next beta of iOS 9.3. Grey and Serenity (among others) argue that Apple’s decision to remove Pencil-navigation was due to Apple deciding, with the introduction of iOS 9.3 betas, that the Pencil shouldn’t be used as a navigational tool; navigation should be restrained to your finger and drawing(and the like) should be handled by the Pencil. I think everyone is seeing this problem in a completely wrong way. Here’s how I approach this: Choosing between draw and interact and draw only is obviously a design decision Apple must have had to make when designing the Pencil. Note that the iPad Pro, upon launch, didn’t allow for the Pencil to activate Notification Centre or Control Centre. Apple thought of something as nuanced as that and couldn’t decide between draw and interact and draw-only? For the sake of argument, let’s assume they debated the two decisions internally and picked draw and interact. Come iOS 9.3 and Apple decides to switch to draw-only. At this point the tech-elite start (validly) complaining and Apple switches back to draw and interact? Simplification: Apple decides, re-decides (because they wanted a paradigm shift) and then re-decides again? Further, Apple did not need to wait for a subset of its users to start complaining for them to realise ‘some customers like to use Apple Pencil for [navigation] as well’. Apple collects usage data on their products all the time. I would be shocked if they didn’t have proper data on how many people truly use the Pencil for navigating prior to iOS 9.3. (Besides, if Apple started retracing their decisions based on public-demand, they should be in for a lot of switching back-and-forth between the audio jack.) This, of course, leads to the question ‘then why did they do it?’. I am not so sure of the answer there but speculation on my part leads me to believe that Apple may have run into a bug with the Pencil that they realised once the iPad Pro was in the hands of thousands of users. Fixing it, required the temporary termination of the Pencil’s ability to interact with iOS and betas are as good a time as ever (Grey does mention in the podcast that his sources say Apple made a conscious decision to remove Pencil navigation and it wasn’t just a bug). Again, this is just wild speculation since nothing else fits. Sadly, there won’t be any way to truly affirm the validity of whether Apple had a bug/problem with the Pencil or they simply didn’t think things through but I suppose there could be a clue as to which one it might be. If Apple re-introduces Pencil navigation (in the coming betas) as an accessibility feature, it would imply Apple simply didn’t think their decision through and didn’t realise a small portion of people really do use the Pencil for navigation. If so, that subset of users (and folks with RSI troubles) can enable it as an accessibility feature. If, however, Pencil-navigation is restored as it was pre-iOS 9.3 (i.e. system wide and enabled by default), this was simply an internal problem Apple was trying to resolve.
Casey Newton, The Verge After more than a year in development, Facebook’s expanded Like button “reactions” are now coming to a News Feed near you. For the first time, you’ll be able to react to friends’ posts with something other than a gesture of pure positivity. Long press on the Like button and you’ll now see “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry,” and posts will now show the mix of reactions they’ve received. And while there’s no “dislike” button, as some users have long requested, Facebook says that the new mix of reactions has proven popular with users during testing in Spain and Ireland. It’s launching today on iOS, Android, and the web. My initial response to these six (‘like’ included) new ‘reactions’ – they’re emoji really – was that they’re fascinating and an interesting way to solve Facebook’s persistent problem of the lack of a dislike button (the problem being: if someone’s pet died and you like the picture, are you showing support or ‘liking it’?). Until I try and make sense of these ‘reactions’, here’s how I interpret them to keep myself entertained: hipster-like, heart-cake, I laugh at you in mockery, holy shit, depressed and bugger-off. Casey adds: But even though new reactions are here, the Like retains its supremacy in Facebook’s pecking order. The reason a ‘Like’ still remains at the core of these reactions is, as I see it, that you can still only ‘Like’ a page, not ask it to bugger off.
Ashley Carman, The Verge: The American public might be on Apple’s side in its war with the FBI. An Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters found that 46 percent of Americans support Apple’s opposition to the FBI’s court order demanding it subvert its iPhone security. Thirty-five percent disagreed with the company’s decision to fight the demands, and 20 percent didn’t know what to think. […] This study contradicts one published earlier this week [where] Pew Research found that more than half of Americans believed Apple should just comply with the FBI’s demands, whereas 38 percent said the company should fight. Wording was a key difference between the two studies, Reuters reported. The difference between ‘Do you think Apple should give up data from just one iPhone, thereby letting the F.B.I. do the right thing for the victims in the San Bernardino case? (No precedents, the F.B.I. swears)’ and ‘Should Apple be forced to compromise the security on their OS?’
After an unplanned series of hops between websites, I somehow found myself on Matt Gemmell’s website. Gemmell, developer-turned-writer reviewed the Apple Watch last year, a week into owning it. It makes for an excellent read since Gemmell’s narrative is that of a writer – a person who’s major dealings with technology are to meet a non-technological end; he retains his technological aptitude though. Almost every Apple Watch review I have read so far is that of a person heavily invested in technology. The narrative gets stale after a while. This proved to be a fresh and thoroughly satisfying read. I suggest saving it for an upcoming evening and enjoying it with your beverage of choice. Here’s the concluding excerpt: I was too quick to judge this little gadget, but after just a week, my iPhone spends more time in a pocket than in my hand. The Watch, though, is kind of like my wedding ring. Most of the time, you forget it’s even there.
Drew Coffman, Extratextuals : With today’s tech news cycle being dominated by Tim Cook’s stand against the FBI, I am reminded of a recent story that swings in the opposite direction, from Google. Metrocosm released a fascinating article detailing the major discrepancies when viewing Google Maps in China as compared to the rest of the world. […] However, the maps are also different simply to make China look more powerful than it truly is, and as the article points out, Google would like to be on China’s good side. From the original Metrocosm article: A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the world’s most peculiar territorial disputes. And among them I listed Arunachal Pradesh, a territory claimed by both China and India. What makes this dispute “peculiar” is not the dispute itself, but rather how the borders shown in Google Maps change depending on who’s looking at them. The images below show Arunachal Pradesh (or South Tibet, as it’s known in China) as it appears in Google Maps China, Google Maps India, and Google Maps USA. […] you might also notice that the river shown in the India and USA images is strangely absent from the Chinese map. I was taken aback (but only partially surprised) by China’s Google Maps showing Arunachal Pradesh (an East-Indian state) as a part of China. Don’t take a resident’s word for it, go have a look at the American Google Maps’ version. Additionally, in the Metrocosm article: Particularly sensitive at the moment is the territory claimed by China in the South China Sea. China’s self-declared maritime boundary encircles nearly the entire sea, running right up against the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, leaving each of them with only a thin buffer of sea territory. These three countries have pushed back, accusing Google of favoring China by labeling disputed islands under their Chinese names and/or explicitly identifying the islands as Chinese territory. It’s no secret that Google has had a contentious history with China, and now wants to get back in China’s good graces in order to expand into the Chinese market. And according to Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, Google Maps has been violating its own policy on disputed territory in order to curry Chinese favor.
Apple recently released an FAQ for customers that include answers to the most crucial (from Apple’s view) questions that people might be doubtful over. Essentially, if there’s anything of relevance to the case and you still aren’t clear on it, this FAQ is geared towards you. My favourite segment: Has Apple unlocked iPhones for law enforcement in the past? No. […]
Dan Seifert, The Verge: Both phones have support for microSD cards to augment their 32GB of internal storage […] Kudos to Samsung for picking 32GB as the base storage option but the fact that they reintroduced the microSD card certainly makes it seem like Samsung doesn’t think their decisions through. The S6 shipped without an SD card and the S7 gets it back. Either they didn’t think it through the first time or this time. The only other explanation might be yesteryear’s S6 design change didn’t allow for an SD card but I choose to not believe that reasoning since Samsung doesn’t seem like the sort of company to be limited by engineering resources when it comes to cramming things in. Dan continues: Instead, to address the battery life deficiencies of last year, Samsung increased the size of the phones’ batteries, up to 3,000mAh in the S7 (up from 2,550mAh in the S6) […] Worrying, that the answer to better (or maybe matching?) battery-life isn’t ‘processor improvements’ or ‘software optimisations’, but ‘more battery’. Further: Perhaps the most significant change this year comes in the S7’s new 12-megapixel camera. It’s lower resolution than last year’s 16-megapixel shooter, but Samsung says its larger pixels let in 56 percent more light than before for better low light images. Essentially, to get better picture quality, increasing the pixel-count wasn’t cutting it anymore. Wasn’t this what Apple has been doing all along? It’s decisions like these that make me think that Samsung doesn’t think things through. Why not, instead, stick to a specific pixel count with your camera and re-iterate it until ‘increase the pixel count’ is the only way left, to improve picture quality. To be clear, this isn’t Samsung realising that more megapixels doesn’t imply better picture quality. This is Samsung running up against a wall. I wouldn’t be surprised, at all, if Cupertino were grinning looking at the S7. It’s the year the iPhone gets a redesign and Samsung is shipping, essentially, a fatter S6.