Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Tales Of the iPhone Mini - Picture-In-Picture Feature

There are a couple of reports in the last few months about how the iPhone 12 mini is not selling well and Apple has been cutting back its productions even as the iPhone 12 and the pro versions are flying off the shelves.  It is disheartening to say the least but I think it is too early to write off the mini considering.

I have written about the mini a few times since I got it.  I enjoy reading reviews about it since they're mostly very positive.  For those us who do own it, I am sure I'll have a hard time finding someone who isn't happy with it.  Sure, I would not mind having a longer battery life but since I'm home bound due to COVID, I have not found myself worrying about charging it up.  And if rumors are true, I'll be the first in line for the Apple MagSafe battery.  

One thing you want to keep in mind about the mini despite smaller form factor (of course, smaller but not so small screen) is that on the size, it is every bit an iPhone 12 as its bigger siblings. That means it is fast.  I've done a fair amount of productive activities on it.  

And the best feature is the picture-in-picture feature.  The feature has been available for almost year now.  On my previous mobile driver, the 2016 iPhone SE, it worked smoothly even on the 4" screen.  I can adjust the size of the PIP screen as well which I made as small as possible when I am doing work on the SE.   On the mini, it is even better.  At 5.4", I do not have to adjust the screen as much.  

At times, some of my work is just writing or working on some office files.  I can still work while allowing myself a little distraction when I am out and about and not on my laptop.  And these days, between music, audiobooks, podcasts, and videos, there is a lot to consume.  I'll take any few minutes that I can steal way to catch up on some much needed entertainment.  I'm also one of those folks who enjoy a little background sounds as well.

It took a while for Apple to finally implement PIP on the iPhone.  Like I said, it was only available on iOS 14 whereas it has been a main feature on the iPad for years.  I don't know what took Apple so long to bring this over to the iPhone.  when I heard about it for the iPhone, I could not believe it.  Nor could I believe it would work on my SE.  And now on the mini, it is even better than what I could have hoped for.

Stay tuned for another Tales of the iPhone mini.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Call Recorder - An Useful Feature if Apple Ever Implements It

MacObserver pointed out a security risk on an app called Call Recorder that allow conservations to be stolen.  I'm not user of this app so I cannot say whether this is some sort of a trojan app that is allowing some nefarious groups or governments steal calls.  But I can say for sure that this would be high on the wishlist of an iOS update to record Facetime audio for podcasting purposes.

Why would Apple allows such a feature?  Simple.  Privacy.  If this is implemented only for Facetime, it would do many things for Apple users, least of which, is the assurance that their calls are private.  Before each call can be recorded, everyone connected on the call should give their consent.  Those who do not will simply have their audio muted.

On top of that, this would have a wide range of private and commercial uses - calls for posterity for users. I occasionally record FaceTime calls with my baby niece and nephew.  Adorable, right?  And how about this for podcasters - the ability to record calls and directly import them into whatever audio or podcasting apps they use.  Also, for interviews from journalists to other professionals who needs to record and generate audio files, it would help a lot.

For years, I have not been a fan of giving anyone the ability record calls.  But as time have passed, my stand on this has changed as well - but privacy and the rights of all parties should be preserved.  

More than just privacy, Apple can stand to benefit from this.  Beyond the publicity and good will that might be generated from this, Facetime calls, audio or video, take up space.  That means iCloud storage.  That means people subscribing to increase their storage allotment with Apple.  That means more dollars.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Looking For the Mac to Follow the iPhone and iPad - Trickle-Down Effect - Powerful and Cheaper

 Source:  Apple.

In November, Apple released new Macs based on its own chip, a move way from Intel forever, that has long-term disruption to the Mac market for years to come.  Essentially, the M1 is based on the design that has been powering the iPhone and iPad for years now.  The difference is that the M1 was designed for the Mac.  The late 2020 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini is just a taste of what is to come.  And judging by media coverage, reviews, and general excitement, people are loving what they see. 

 Overlooked is what it means for the Mac market in the long term.   These new Macs were barely on sale before fans are talking about the M1X, presumably the next M1 upgrade that may power MacBooks with bigger screens and the iMac.  Oh, and you have to throw M2 into the mix of what Mac fans are excited about.  

M1, M2, or M5.  Consider this.  Whenever new iPhone comes out, Apple has kept around some of the previous year's models around to take up lower price points while the newest models take up the current price points (or higher).  That is the same with the iPad.  The iPhone has a price range from $399 to $1299. And when the iPad came out, it was priced at $499.  Today, the cheapest iPad is $329 and the iPad Pro topping off at $1499.  

The cheapest M1 Mac is the MacBook Air at $999.  The most expensive Mac with a M1 chip is almost $2000 while the Intel MacBook Pro is even higher.  What will happen when the newer M-series chip come out to power the Mac?  Will Apple stop making M1 Macs and only sell the M1X or M2 ones instead?

It could. The PC market is different from smartphone or tablet markets.  However, Apple may be interested in capture a larger share of the PC market if it can lower the prices of the Mac, to say around $600.  In a few years, Apple may be able to sell a $599 MacBook with a 10" screen that can complete more effective with PCs in that range.  Right now, Apple is giving up a lot of sales to underpowered and cheap Windows and Chrome laptops.  By spending just a little more, users can buy MacBooks that are powerful running the latest OS X.  

This would represent a seismic shift in the PC market - tens of millions of users will suddenly be able to afford Macs that were previously priced out of the range they were willing to spend.  And as years pass, features and speed of the Mac that was previously available to only to the higher end Mac would begin to trickle down these more consumer and school friendly Macs.  

If Apple takes up this strategy, do not be surprised if it sucks an even larger share of the dollar spent in the PC hardware market but also increase sizably in the number of units sold as well.  

Case For the Cellular Enabled and High-End iPod Touch - Addressing Facetime, Gaming, and Future of Mobile

 After the death of the iPods, the classic, nano, and shuffle, I was pretty sure that Apple would eventually get rid of the iPod touch as well.  Alas, that has not happened and Apple has even upgraded as recently as 2019 with the A10 chip used in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.  It was a surprise to everyone when it came up but I think it's time that Apple give it another go.  And while I do not think it will likely happen, Apple should go big on it - give it a 6.1" screen like the iPhone 12, updated camera, and even a  high end version with cellular connection.  

Right now, I am using an iPhone 12 mini.  While I have been upgrading my iPhone annually, my main daily driver was the original iPhone SE.  And I love the size.  But recently, I have trying to cut myself off as much as possible, even to the point of relying only on my cellular Apple Watch on weekends.  One of the reasons is that I simply do not need to make calls anymore.  I gather others are in the same position as I am.  We just need a decent device for staying in touch in ways that everyone else is doing today - messaging or video chats like Facetime or Zoom.  

An iPod touch with a 6" screen, A13 or even A14 chip, upgraded dual camera setup, 15 hours of battery life, and cellular connection is just such a device that I would need.  I would not mind paying a premium for it. 

Apple can even make a version with the same 4.7" screen that are used on the iPhone SE on the low end with an A13 chip, the same camera on the SE, and 10 hours of battery life on the low end.  Yes, it is time that Apple ditch the smallish 4" screen.  I gave that up and it's time Apple does as well.

I know that this is what I would like Apple to do but they're not likely going to do it - their cash cow is in selling the iPhones and iPod touch sales are not going to come close to those numbers.  I still cannot help but think Apple has to be thinking down the road when phone numbers and the old ways of making voice connections will become obsolete and feature like Facetime will become the dominant means of audio and visual communication.  

And let's face it, Facetime is the dominant means of communication in the iOS world but there are far more number of people using Android than iPhones.  Apple has to do more to make sure Facetime is not supplemented by another communication app.  Continuing to update the iPod touch with an inexpensive model and cellular model can address a larger segment of the non-iPhone market.  

One other thing that is just as important to address for Apple is gaming.  the iPod touch is a capable gaming machine but a high-end version of the touch with cellular connection would make it a monster gaming machine.  

Apple's dominion of the mobile gaming machine exists and there is no double about it.  Epic's fight to get more of the dollars from Apple is evident of that.  Right now, it's biggest competitors are Android and the Nintendo Switch.  A 6'1" screen iPod touch would be a huge leap in mobile gaming for Apple.  Modern speed and graphics would bring in tons of young gamers who otherwise would have to keep borrowing from their parents or on diminutive and dated iPod touch.  And for serious gamers, cellular connectivity is a must.  Oh, and don't forget that Apple is serious-ish about gaming with the growing Apple Arcade service.

I'm sure Apple will address the iPod touch again - we are more likely than not of seeing a new form factory and updated chipset in it.  How much Apple is willing to go with the update will be very telling about just what Apple thinks about the future of mobile computing and communication.  Not to mention just how important the iPod touch in connecting users with Apple's growing segment of services.  

Using Generative AI Has Given Me A New Appreciation For Siri and Excited For The Future of Apple Intelligence

I used generative AI this week to find the dimensions of a refrigerator based on the model number. I googled first because of muscle memory ...