iPhone X Photos

Barb’s only had her iPhone X for a few days and is still getting the hang of new features. Today she played with some of the new photos options. Don’t know how they’ll look here but on my laptop (and her phone) they looked damned good. Not sure which setting were used for each photo but I can tell you I’ve never seen a photo taken with a phone that was this crisp and sharp. The new iPhones are just larger than I like so I’m hoping these new camera features come to some future SE model.

Teens love iMessage

Every iPhone user I know relies on iMessage heavily. It’s the app I use more than any other on my phone. Is iMessage a form of social media? I never considered it to be but the stats below make wonder if it might be.

“US youth between the ages of 10 and 19 average 25 iMessages each day. That’s compared to 14 messages over Facebook Messenger, and 8 snaps on Snapchat. The estimates propose that while Apple is often left out of the chat app ecosystem, it could be the most used platform and one of the best for brands and developers to reach US consumers.” (Business Insider)

The iPhone continues to be the most popular smartphone among teens, according to data gathered by investment firm Piper Jaffray in its most recent semiannual U.S. teen survey. 76 percent of teens surveyed own an iPhone, up from 69 percent in the spring of 2016, and the highest ownership level seen in the teen survey. A record 81 percent of teens surveyed said they expect their next phone to be an iPhone, up from 75 percent a year ago. (MacRumors)

Apple is making iMessage more functional with features like Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments via iMessage with Apple Pay. And they want it to be the go-to interface for business-consumer interaction. An upcoming update to iMessage includes iOS Business Chat, a “powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages,” according to Apple.

Renaming files in Apple Photos

Once upon a time file names could only be a certain length. Was 7 characters for he name and 3 or the extension? 8 characters for the name? I can’t recall but somewhere along the way this limitation was lifted and we can name a file something useful. But I never developed the discipline to take advantage of this and have some old files with names like 4777959349_o.jpg . In my OCD moments this bugs me and I might take a few minutes (or a few days) and rename offending files.

I rarely see file names in iPhoto (I refuse to call it Apple Photos), just the Title I enter when adding photo. But my buddy George Kopp pointed out I can change the file name to the Title when exporting images for backup. This short screencast (4 min) shows this feature.

AirPods: First hundred days

I am not an audiophile. I thought the AM radio (WLS) music coming out of the dash speaker on my Ford Falcon sounded pretty damn good. During the 70s I wore headphones four hours a day. I lived through the refrigerator sized speaker era. It all sounded good to me.

But the music never sounded as good as it does coming from the tiny Apple AirPods. Is that perceptual? Maybe. But all music is perceptual unless you have a spectrum analyzer implanted in your head.

I’ve never heard better, more natural, separation. I was listening to CSN&Y (on the highway) this morning and could hear acoustic guitars in my left ear (for lack of a more scientific description). Even that little raspy sounds made when the fingers are dragged along one of the base strings (?). I could shift my awareness to the base in my right ear. (Channel is a better word, isn’t it?) And the vocals were somewhere in the rear-center of my noggin.

It feels like I’m hearing these songs for the first time. I know, I know… this is old news to you pros with the big cans clamped to your head. And good for you.

I’m seeing more AirPods here in the coffee shop every week. If I’m familiar with the person I ask how they like them and why they decided to give them a try. Usually some variation of the story above.

There are probably a lot of good reason NOT to try AirPods. That they’re made by Apple is not one of them.

Apple’s New Campus

A few of my favorite excerpts from Steven Levy’s tour of Apple’s new campus.

“Jobs discussed the walls he had in mind for the offices: “He knew exactly what timber he wanted, but not just ‘I like oak’ or ‘I like maple.’ He knew it had to be quarter-­cut. It had to be cut in the winter, ideally in January, to have the least amount of sap and sugar content. We were all sitting there, architects with gray hair, going, ‘Holy shit!’”

“At first, we had no idea what Steve was actually talking about with these pods. But he had it all mapped out: a space where you could concentrate one minute and then bump into another group of people in the next,” Behling says.”

“To withstand earthquakes, the Ring is mounted on huge steel base isolators that ensure the building can move up to 4.5 feet in any direction without losing its vital services.”

“The very toughest challenge came from constructing the giant glass sliding doors for the café—they had to extend from the ground to the roof, a full four stories. Each door leaf is about 85 feet by 54 feet. “The only doors I know of in the world that size are on an airplane hangar,” Diller says.”

“It’s not like we’re asking people to be uncomfortable at work,” she says. “We’re asking them to recognize that part of being connected to the outside is knowing what temperature it is. We don’t want you to feel like you’re in a casino. We want you to know what time of day it is, what temperature it is outside. Is the wind really blowing? That was Steve’s original intention, to sort of blur that line between the inside and outside. It sort of wakes up your senses.”

The Perfect MacBook

My MacBook Pro is 3 1/2 years old. It’s the best computer I’ve ever owned. As far as I’m concerned, it’s perfect. So this week I purchased another one, almost exactly like it. (I won’t bore you with the specs) I bought it as a spare but my current machine will become the spare.

I’ve always thought the latest version of the MacBook was better than the one before. Until now. The newest model has a keyboard that just doesn’t feel as good as mine. The Touchpad is bigger than I want or need. And Apple saw fit to do away with the MagSafe connector on the power cord, which kept my box on the table instead of the floor countless times.

M.G. Siegler had similar thoughts a couple of years ago:

“I suspect this new MacBook will be the last laptop I end up buying. Again, that doesn’t mean the MacBook is dying anytime soon, but I believe this will be the pinnacle of the product. We’ll get spec bumps for years to come. But it will be the long, slow fade we just witnessed with the iPod.”

I don’t really fault Apple for this. Let’s say, for the sake of discussion, that Apple (or any company) succeeded in making The Perfect Laptop. I know, there’s no such thing but let’s say it was 99.99% perfection. And the following year — to meet shareholders expectations — they have to roll out a new model. They’ve got make some changes, right? Isn’t it much more likely those changes will make it worse than better? There’s probably a name for this phenomenon (If You Fuck With It Enough You Will Fuck It Up Syndrome?).

I think this is what happened with their latest MacBook Pro. I’m sure it’s a good laptop and lots of people will buy it and be very happy with it. Just not me.

So now I have two (nearly identical) laptops. One in the bag I take everywhere and one on the closet on hot standby.

Voice-to-text note using Siri via AirPods

I created a note on my iPhone using Siri and voice-to-text. (In a noisy coffee shop). Music is great on the AirPods but my primary reason for the purchase was to see if/how AirPods could change the way I interacted with the iPhone. Using Siri (far from perfect) to read messages and email; create and send messages and email; schedule reminders; etc. Without removing the phone from my pocket. [Video runs 20 sec]

Apple AirPods

I was going to wait a few days before sharing any thoughts on my new Bluetooth headphones but I’ve been so impressed by the initial experience I’m going to share a few first impressions.

  • I thought the regular Apple earbuds sounded fine but the audio quality of the AirPods is noticeably better. A lot better, IMO. Maybe a 25% improvement?
  • Lots of folks complain about how earbuds and the new AirPods feel in their ears. Never a problem for me. I kept them in for an hour two last night and they were so comfortable I forgot they were in. I felt no movement when shaking my head vigorously or jumping up and down. I have no concern about them falling out. I have no doubt I’ll be wearing (?) these more than the wired earbuds.
  • On that point, I was surprised by a new sense of freedom from the wire. (Like I said, this is my first experience with Bluetooth phones) Not having that little wire against my cheeks or snagging on a shirt button changes the experience far more than I would have expected. In a way that I can’t explain, the music feels like it’s in my head, instead of in my ears.
  • Phone calls – Barb says I’m much easier to understand on a call (compared to just talking on the iPhone). I think this might be the result of ambient noise filters built into the system.
  • Voice-to-text works great, even when speaking in lower-than-normal speaking level.

Still trying stuff (Siri commands/inquiries, etc) but these are keepers. Will it fundamentally change how I interact with the technology? To be determined.

Macs are $535 less expensive than PCs

“In 2015, IBM let their employees decide – Windows or Mac. “The goal was to deliver a great employee choice program and strive to achieve the best Mac program,” Previn said. An emerging favorite meant the deployment of 30,000 Macs over the course of the year. But that number has grown. With more employees choosing Mac than ever before, the company now has 90,000 deployed (with only five admins supporting them), making it the largest Mac deployment on earth.”

“But isn’t it expensive, and doesn’t it overload IT? No. IBM found that not only do PCs drive twice the amount of support calls, they’re also three times more expensive. That’s right, depending on the model, IBM is saving anywhere from $273 – $543 per Mac compared to a PC, over a four-year lifespan. “And this reflects the best pricing we’ve ever gotten from Microsoft,” Previn said. Multiply that number by the 100,000+ Macs IBM expects to have deployed by the end of the year, and we’re talking some serious savings.”