Monday, September 28, 2015

Macworld Review Shows Apple Tech Pundits and Bloggers Growing More Arrogant and Full Of Themselves

In an otherwise decent review of the iPhone 6S, Macworld UK (link here but nothing new you probably haven't read else where) love the iPhone 6S.  The chief complaint it had was that Apple did not increase the resolution of the iPhone 6S over the 6. 

Seriously?!  Seriously?!  Was Apple increasing the resolution on the iPhone 6S even on any rumor site's radar?  Not at all.  A quick search on Google showed that not one rumor indicated the possibility that Apple was going to up the resolution on the iPhone 6S.

And hey, pal, Apple ain't gonna change the 1080p on the 5.5" iPhone 6S Plus to 4K next year either.  Make sure you show your disappointment in your review next year, yeah?

This is just another example of what I see as an increasingly arrogance that tech pundits show for decades and Apple writers beginning to adopt this bad behavior.  Call out Apple for its bad cloud support.  I agree.  But looking for issues where there aren't any or ripping into Apple or another company whose products do not have all features they want or what competitors have.  Not like all those 4K Android devices are outselling the 6S, are they?

Call things for what they are.  Battery life?  Yeah, that's one thing Macworld could have complained about.  But 4K?  Even if Apple did put in a 4K without telling anyone, I reckon this reviewer probably would have complained about the lack of 4K because HE PROBABLY CAN'T TELL!

Oh, and if Apple had added a 4K screen, this dude would have complained about the shorter battery life. 

It just seems like Apple bloggers just have nothing to do since iPhones are doing so well these days compared to its competitiors that all they can do is bitch, bitch, bitch to get eye balls.  C'mon, guys.  You guys are smart and some of you are even decent writers.  Still with that.

iPhone 6S: Day 1, Meh But Still With High Expecations

If you're judging from the title of my post, you'd think I was not impressed with my iPhone 6S.  Well, it has been day one and I have not had a chance to go exploring new features like 3D Touch, snapping photos, and testing out the battery life.  I just had an ordinary day.  And for the new iPhone 6S at my side, there was nothing new to change my routine. 

I did snap a couple Live Pictures but was unable to share this new iOS feature because many folks with iPhones have not upgraded their phones or to iOS 9. So, it could be a while before we start seeing many live pictures being shared and viewed properly.  For now, it feels gimmicky.  Apple pushed it as a new neat feature but it does not feel like a must have.  But don't tell the other 12,999,999 iPhone 6S buyers that. 

But the fact that the new 6S out of the box works like just the 6 means that Apple has done well in allowing users from previous iPhones to transition well.  Swap out the sim card, transfer old data from iCloud or iTunes, and it just works a few hours later.  That is an incredible feat.  Something that is not easily done on Android especially if you're moving from one company's phone to another. 

One thing that did irk me just a bit was pairing with Apple Watch with the 6S.  I lost half a day's of physical data on the watch.  There does not seem to be a way to repair without resetting the watch.

One thing I noticed was how comfortable it felt in my hand. I previously owned an iPhone 6 Plus. And now with the iPhone 6S Plus which weighed just a bit more, for whatever reason, it feels great in my hands.  Perhaps it's pyschological. 

Now, I can't end the post without talking about battery life.  I'm not expecting great things especially given the talk around the tubes of web that the both models of the new iPhone have smaller batteries than their predecessors.  I reckon Apple has made enough improvements to both the hardware and iOS 9 to squeeze out additional efficencies to maintain similar battery lives.  I've adapted and have made peace with battery life expecations from all my devices, trying to preserve battery maintenance, and balancing my needs.  With the expectation that I will upgrade my iPhone annually, I have no issues charging the battery once a day when I have a light schedule or midway through the day if onset of battery anxiety hits.  Still, Apple, would it kill you if you stop making phones thinner every other year to increase the battery life? 

Same goes for the iPad.

Space: Mars Has Flowing Salty Water During Summers

Hot off the press:  NASA said there is liquid water still flowing on Mars.  The press conference is still live.

This has huge implication on the possibility of life on Mars, else where in our solar system, and beyond.

Source: SCPR.

Friday, September 25, 2015

iPad Versus MacBook: Does It Come Down To Only Keyboard? Mostly

Here is a post from Macworld in which the author argues and explains why his MacBook Air is still his go-to device while the iPad, regardless of whether it is the mini, Air, or the yet to be released Pro, still cannot displace his Mac still. I have read enough similar posts to see an underlying theme: keyboard. 

That's it. The Macs have keyboards where as the iPad inherently do not and needs a clip-on case keyboard or one hooked in via Bluetooth. And here is the thing that I have thought about that makes the MacBooks a better option than the iPad with a keyboard. You cannot put the MacBook on your laps as easily as you can with an iPad with a keyboard. Really, think about it. It makes sense. 

Having said that, at the end of the day for a lot of these posts, it's about keyboard and navigation versus no keyboard and navigating with fingers and touch. 

But Macs are generally more powerful and capable as a computer and, therefore, are more capable of supporting more tools. Take Xcode for instance. If a developer wants to write an app for the iOS ecosystem, his or her only option is the Mac. To me that's a good reason why one would stick with a Mac. Until Apple is inclined to release a iOS Xcode app, we really won't know what developers will choose, keyboard or not. 

Oversimplifying this a bit? Maybe. However, this issue could be generational. Those born into the touch UI might well be fine with typing on a glass screen or feel quite at home dictating to Siri. Those of us older who started their computing experiences on a keyboard would like see things differently. 

It all comes down to preference. I'm on the camp that uses my iOS devices fora cats majority of my computing needs and into go to my Mac when I am absolutely have to. 

Note: This post was writing on my iPhone. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

October Event: Nope

Over the weekend, the idea that Apple may or may not follow tradition with an October event was batted around (On Apple).  Listed were subjects that Apple may dive into and talk about its visions and more far-reaching services that it plan on pushing out to iOS and OS X, reaching further into mobile and eventually the home and car.  However, unlike this post from Two Guys and A Podcast, it is not likely that Apple will hold an event just for the Mac updates. 

Mac Pro and Mini updates?  ZZZZZZZ... Retiring the Macbook Airs in favor of the 12" and even 14" Macbooks?  Sure but the way Apple works is it will allow the Air to languish for a while before unveiling any new replacement and then also allow the Air to sit around for a while with no update and, one day, it's just gone.  The Air was just updated recently so it's not going to happen as TGAAP hope. 

Plus, as far as the Macs are concerned, the much anticipated El Capitan is coming out on 9/30.  Apple is not going to devote time to a product already on the market unless there is a secret update to El Capitan that Apple is hold back that is so awesome that it warrants Tim Cook and friends to take the stage to talk about.  And if that is the case, what can it possibly be? 

Conventional wisdom is that an October media event is not going to happen because Apple loves to break from patterns when it can and deem necessary.  Still, fingers are crossed that Apple is not done wowing its devotees and fans. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hey, Apple, Where Is the Updated Apple Pay?

Hey, Apple. And hey, Apple fans. Where are the new Apple Pay features? You know, like rewards and such? I was promised by rumor-mongers that we would be getting that by the release of new iPhones and iOS 9. So, what gives?

As far as I know, I'm the only who has asked this rather important question. Sure, the biggest news from Apple's media event last week was the addition of the Discover Card joining Apple Pay and rewarded its users for the year-long delay with a 10% cash back reward of a total purchase of up to $10,000 in in-store purchases.

Still, rewards from stores would be kinda nice to have. It's like the only reason Apple has decided to delay or not even talk about the rewards aspect of Apple Pay is that many stores like Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joes do not offer rewards of any sort. Heck, not even Apple offers a rewards program. And in using some credit cards that offer cash back, that might be enough for most users. And let's face it, most major supermarkets like Ralphs that offer discounts to its reward card users are not Apple Pay partners or offer NFC payment options.

Still, it would have been nice to see Apple continue to innovate with existing partners somehow. Oh you know, like offer some sort of reward that over time would culminate into some sort of discount on Apple products or services.

I'm sure Apple would love to move things forward as a faster clip but, like its negotiation with content owners for its Apple streaming service, many things are out of its control. For the moment, Apple is likely content with adding as many partner businesses and financial institutions as it can before going forward.

Apple Media Event: Is This It?

Apple was expected to unveil new iPhone models, the iPad Pro as well as updates to existing models, maybe something about the Apple Watch with new skins and bands, and, of course, a new Apple TV model. Well, Apple did that as it unveiled in about two hours all of the above. In doing so, it likely omitted any reason why it would hold a second media event as it had done in the previous years.

Prior to last week's event, there was a bit of debate within the Apple fan community whether Apple would unveil everything in one event or follow tradition. That debate is now over. Or is it?

Is there any reason or possibility that Apple could schedule an October media event? And if so, what could Apple possibly want to talk about? With the vast majority of its products updated, including the iPods a month or so ago, it leaves only the Macs. Speculations that Apple could update the Macs with Intel's latest Skylake chips make a lot of sense but new Macs certainly will not command the type of attention that iOS devices do. Furthermore, the next OS X, El Capitan, was given a release date of September 30th already and it is unlikely that Apple has anything new to offer on that front. Oh, Apple might release new accessories like new Mac keyboards based on the new butterfly mechanism but, to be frank, no one will get excited about that.

So, that means the likely reason for Apple to hold another media event would be a completely new product or consumer service. It is a safe bet that Apple is done for the year with respect to introducing new hardware that is not an upgrade of an existing product. The idea of a new consumer service is more plausible.

During last week's event, the Apple TV got a bulk of the two-hour long event, highlighting the new app store and gaming capability. What was missing was the rumored TV bundle service as well as new news about the HomeKit. If the stars somehow align in the next couple of weeks and Apple is able to complete its often tough and stalled negotiations between itself and contend owners, Apple can conceivably command another event and demand the world pay attention once more as it unveil its revolutionary (or not) TV service along with new HomeKit updates. After all, many had expected the Apple TV to serve as a HomeKit hub as well.

So far, HomeKit information and products have not received the amount of attention it deserves. Apple may be ready to enter the market with its own products or a slate of partner products to show consumers, specifically its fans, its vision of the future home.

One other possible service is CarPlay and it is unlikely to get any time since Apple is rumored to be working on its own car. If Apple does make another major announcement about CarPlay, it will be ready to unveil its first carOS along with the associated Apple hardware to run it, the Apple Car. Right now, CarPlay feels just as much like a hobby as the Apple TV has been since it was introduced.

So, the safest bet now is to say that Apple is all done for the year. It has what it needs to record another record-breaking Holidays quarter and Tim Cook and company are resting up to get ready to haul the bags of money we'll be giving them to the bank.

iPhone 6S Vs iPhone 6S Plus

I am writing this post to help me sort through which iOS device I should upgrade to. And as if this writing, I have yet to decide which iPhone 6S model to upgrade to and which iPad to upgrade to. I went ahead and both the iPhone 6S Plus and the iPad Mini 4 but like anything else, I can cancel almost any time I want or just send them back to the local Apple store.

I currently have an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPad Air, both I am handing down to waiting hands of relatives. So, let's start with the iPhone.

iPhone 6S Versus iPhone 6S Plus: Like I said above, I have the iPhone 6 Plus. I like it but at times, I find the size to be an issue especially coming from the 4" form factot of the 5S. While the 6 Plus fit well inside the front pocket of my baggy jeans, it never let you forget that it is there. Maybe that is good but I also found myself thinking that I would not mind having the lighter iPhone 6.

Sure, the iPhone 6 Plus' big 5.5" screen is pretty good but I did not use it in ways that I expected. I didn't write more than usual with it, reading comic books (not once on the iPhone 6 Plus), or any more productive than when I was on the 4" screen of the 5S. I am writing this post on the iPhone 6 Plus with a Bluetooth keyboard. Does that count?

Oh, and I run with my iPhones. I never go to the gym without it because it is my main and only music player these days. When I started running with a smartphone, it felt awkward and uneven because I am usually holding it on one hand and switching it to the other ever other quarter or half mile. Now, imagine running with a bigger device like the iPhone 6 or 6S Plus.

Now, don't get me wrong. One of the biggest issues with me regarding smartphones and I'm sure most readers would agree is battery life. The 5S was okay but under semi-heavy use, it did not last. With the iPhone 6 Plus, wow, it was a major leap forward as far as battery life goes. I have yet to worry about the battery life and impose upon myself what I want to on the iPhone 6 Plus. I still charge it every day because my mobile devices, especially ones that fit in the pockets of my pants are my go to devices every single day. From what information is available on the Internet about the battery life of either the iPhone 6S or the 6S Plus, it appears that he 6S will have an even smaller battery than the 6. Granted that Apple has managed to squeeze out greater efficiency on both the hardware and software fronts, that still worries me.

Size, weight, battery life. The major issues I am considering as I agonize over which iPhone model to upgrade to. There is also the issue of the camera differences between the two models. While the larger iPhone 6 and 6S Plus both have optical image stabilization, your average mobile users have been unable to tell the difference between images taken by both phones.

Well, between the stops and goes from the start of this post till the end here, I think I have not come any closer to a decision. I'll have about two weeks to decide. And while I don't think 6S and 6S Plus reviews that should come out a few days before 9/25, the day before the new iPhones goes on sale, I am hoping they'll offer additional details to help me make my final decision.

How about you? Which model are you getting and how did you arrive at that decision?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Canon Does 8K in a Major Way and Surprise VR Headset

Source: Engadget. 

Looks like more folks are getting into the VR game and Canon would be the least of many people's guesses but it does make sense since they make some of the best cameras around.  

Now you'll have to excuse Canon who demo'd their wares at the Canon Expo. See, they're still all prototypes. And recording and pushing out more than 35 million pixels, their 8K cameras are not ready for the market. And frankly, with 1080p still firmly entrenched in millions living rooms, it is unlikely most consumers are too much about 8K when 4K still isn't on the minds of most folks. (No Film School)

What is interesting is Canon demonstrating its VR solution including how they record content for it along with a prototype headset. Given enough interest, it is possible for Canon to enter the market. And why not if its 5K VR headset can provide an immersive and entertaining environment?

Oh yeah, it's 5K total between two screens. So, not bad at all.  

And given that it appears Canon can control the whole experience, from filming to displaying, it could conceivably provide an experience like no other VR headsets in the market. 

However, it's likely the 8K camera and VR rig will see the light of day than the VR headset. Or Canon could eventually license its VR technology to someone else and let them worry about developing and selling their own headsets. After all, Canon is more commonly known for their cameras, and to a lesser extent, printers. 

New iPhone Features Will Force Users To Buy More Expensive iPhone Models.

In this post form Forbes, it suggest that Apple made the iPhone more expensive even though Apple did not raise the price one penny (not the US prices - prices have increased for some countries as the USD has strengthened over the last few months and may continue to do so as commodities market collapse and some countries like China manipulate its currency).  What Forbes suggest is that new features like live photos (think Harry Potter but you do not have to be a wizard) and 4K video recording would require additional storage, making the 16 GB models of the 6S and 6S Plus pretty useless as apps, videos, and photos fight for space on the smallish storage capacity.

This has been an issue but it is only more apparent with the big jump in camera capability from the current 8MP to 12MP on the iSight camera while the 5MP selfie camera on the front will force selfie-takers to consider what pictures to keep.  This would require no only additional storage per picture but with live photos, it is twice the amount storage a regular photo would take.  

Furthermore, 4K video could well mean that users taking even casual videos will need to be aware of how much storage they need - figuring into whether to stick with the low-end 16 GB model or opt for the 64 GB or even 128 GB models.  

Which brings up the question:  when will Apple release a 256 GB version of the iPhone, and eventually, the iPad as well.  And should Apple actually offer a 256 GB option, will Apple continue to offer the pretty useless 16 GB or finally let it happily retire into Apple history?  

That speculation is entirely perfect for a post unto itself.  Simply put, while Apple will not come out and say it, it's obvious the middle tier 64 GB iPhones are the bare minimum if users take any decent number of photos and videos.  To be safe, the best bet is the 128 GB.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Busy Apple Schedule on Tap

Looks like Apple's 2015 Fall event is over but the festivities for fans anyway are not quite over until at least through November.  Let's go through the schedule and see what we have on top through the end of the year.

Here we go:

  • September 12th (Saturday):  iPhone Pre-order.  This is going to be madness.  A lot of pinned up demand from the iPhone 5/5S crowd, not to mention those who are still rocking the 3.5" iPhones.  The iPhone 4S is no slouch but it is getting long in the tooth when it comes to some modern features.  So, preordering starts on midnight which means a lot folks who ordinarily go out on Friday could decide to stay home to order their iPhone.  Don't forget to check out the new annual upgrade program from Apple. This would save me a lot of trouble.  
  • September 16th (Wednesday):  Watch OS becomes available next week, or a week from now if you're reading this today.  While Apple did not upgrade the Apple Watch hardware (this was not expected), Watch OS 2 will take us out of the Dark Age and give us features that Apple probably meant to give us.  Yes, we were all part of Apple's beta program for the last few months.
  • September 30th (Wednesday):  El Capitan, the next OS X update, ships for the Macs.
  • Late October:  Apple TV becomes available for us.  It's likely that Apple hae them ready to ship but the extra month will give developers time to prep their apps for the Apple TV app stores and features.  The developer kit for tvOS is available today.
  • November:  iPad Pro.  This is the gem for today's announcement.  12.9" display, desktop performance, new keyboard case, and, who can forget, Apple Pencil.  
Oh, one more thing.  While the Mac lineup did not get any mention from Apple, it's conceivable that Apple will update the iMac with a 4K display long with upgraded CPU for the Macbooks later this year.  And the Mac Pro has not had any upgrade in a long, long while.

So, there will be plenty to talk about in the weeks and months to come.  For tech fans, specifically Apple fans, Christmas is here!

Monday, September 7, 2015

iPad Pro: 256 GB Or Else

Here is a bit of plausible rumors about the upcoming iPad Pro from Apple (9to5Mac). It will start with 64 GB and max out at 128 GB. Personally, I have been lukewarm about it and have been eyeing a possible iPad mini (it is 3 or 4 now). If the rumor is true, then I'm passing on it and will opt for the one next year, the year after, or when ever Apple offers a 256 GB option. This is after all, an pro version of the iPad and that means it will need the creds to be about productivity.

After all, with the 128 GB option on the iPad Air 2 now, I'm kinda hitting the wall at times.  And with what Apple has planned for the iPad Pro in iOS 9, 10, and beyond, serious mobile warriors will need more storage as improvements and new features advance what they can do with their iPad Pro.  And 256 GB is at least a minimum in this regard.

We will know in the next few days what Apple has planned.  There is a possibility that Apple may have a second event in October and leave the September 9th even entirely for the iPhone and Apple TV and that means waiting even a bit longer before we know what Apple's game plan is for the iPad Pro.  

What do you think?  Is 128 GB enough for a Pro tablet or you will want more storage like me?  Or are you fine with even just 64 GB?

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...