Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of notoriously notarised, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. August was particularly quiet in the Apple blogosphere so there were no good reads to be had, but we’re back now that Apple has announced and launched a few new products that give us some hint of what the future will hold. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- September saw the launch of iOS 11, which was always going to be a deal whether you were getting a new phone or not. Changes across the board meant that we expected some rough edges in the early betas, but leading up to the iOS 11 Gold Master, things just didn’t seem to have the same level of attention to detail that Apple has previously shown. A bug affecting Mail accounts using Outlook.com, Exchange, or Office 365 somehow made it into the public release, and even though it’s now been fixed, there are other tiny design inconsistencies all over the place, all of which contribute to making iOS 11 feel somewhat less polished than previous releases.
The unfinished feeling in iOS 11 mostly comes from UI and animation. UI elements in iOS are quite inconsistent, mixing a variety of UI elements, which might look quite similar but introduce a disconnected feeling for UX. The inconsistency of those elements majorly stems from those UI element updated in iOS 11, such as Large Title and new Search Bar. In my opinion, those newly introduced elements, which might be unfamiliar and new even to Apple engineers, have caused many inconsistent UI experience in iOS 11.
The chairman of the FCC has released a public statement, calling on Apple to enable the FM radio in iPhones for use in times of crisis. Ajit Pai’s reasoning is that FM radio signals are more easily received than internet-based streams, especially in light of damaging hurricanes which public safety is the number one priority. To be clear, many smartphone manufacturers disable the FM radio found in devices, but there are a growing number of companies that ship with FM tuners enabled, too.
Apple’s new privacy mini-site explains Apple’s commitment to privacy and how their belief that privacy is a fundamental human right is demonstrated across their entire product lineup. From software to services, Apple says every product is designed from the ground up to protect your personal information, whether it’s transactions performed with Apple Pay, conversations with iMessage secured by end-to-end encryption, or how your data is shared with third-party apps.
The third teardown of the week comes from none other than iFixit, who take apart the new Apple TV 4K and have a look at its innards. While the exterior of the 4K model contains one less USB-C port than its predecessor and some serious venting, it’s only once you get inside that you discover there’s a whole thermal management solution (read: a fan) cooling the internals. Somewhat surprisingly for an Apple product, the Apple TV 4K also scores an 8 of 10 for reparability.
Apple has released macOS High Sierra into the wild, and provided you have a compatible Mac, you can now download it from the Mac App Store. Like every other macOS release since Mavericks back in 2013, High Sierra is free, and contains mostly under-the hood improvements as detailed by Six Colors. Even though the improvements are mostly under the hood, there’s still major changes to Photos, Safari, and minor visible changes to other macOS cornerstones such as Spotlight, Sierra, and even how the Touch Bar works, if you have one of those.
Buzzfeed’s story on camera improvements in both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X tell us about how the Portrait Lighting effect suddenly transforms modern photography, elevating it to the levels previously only attainable by masters of the art. With Portrait Lighting, Apple spent a lot of time in the lab working out how they could reproduce different lighting effects with software, and in the end, they achieved the results they were looking for. Like many recent Apple innovations, it was the result of esoteric studying and raw technology.
The Verge’s review of the Apple TV 4K says that the 4K support is good when you get free upgrades of your existing iTunes content, but nothing special compared to other similar streaming boxes/sticks from other manufacturers. Instead, it’s basically a video format war that says you don’t get Dolby Atmos support, no YouTube in 4K, no Disney or Marvel movies in 4K, and even makes some 1080p content look bad due to how the Apple TV now supports 4K, but prioritises certain refresh rates over features.
Reviews of the Apple Watch Series 3 are out, and the consensus seems to be that the device is very close to the ideal device for the 21st century. It allows you to stay connected to friends and family, without the distractions of Twitter, Instagram, and the rest of the internet, and all of that is hampered only slightly by the somewhat limited battery life when you’re solely using mobile networks for connectivity. Now all we have to do is wait for the telcos to tell us how much we’ll be paying for iPhone freedom — so far, only Optus has announced pricing.
Reviews of the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are out, and the verdict seems to be that if you own an iPhone 7, the changes aren’t huge enough that you’d want to upgrade straight away. Sure, the True Tone display is nice. Better cameras are nice. Wireless charging is nice. All of the new and improved details of the new devices are nice, but as The Verge tells it, you can basically get much of the same things with iOS 11, a few apps, and a cheap case. If you have an older iPhone, the decision is a little easier — the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus is the best default option for many people.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino interviewed Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi about Face ID on the iPhone X. As part of training, Apple gathered raw sensor data from exhaustive scans of user’s faces, but Face ID won’t transmit your face to the cloud to further train its algorithmic engines to better recognise different types of faces. When you enrol your face in Face ID, it stays on-device. Even when you decide to grow a beard, or shave one off, Face ID will train to recognise your face even without that feature, and it’s all done on-device.