Monday Morning News
The Guardian is reporting an Apple meeting with Californian officials from the US State’s Department of Motor Vehicles, prompting speculation Apple’s autonomous car may be closer than we originally thought. If Apple does join the autonomous vehicle race, it’ll be joining fellow technology giants Google, who already has several driverless cars in California. The Guardian is also saying Apple has appointed an engineering project manager to “Project Titan”, the internal codename for its autonomous car project.
Marco Arment pulled his Ghostery-based ad-blocker for iOS 9 over the weekend, after Peace was the number one paid app in the US App Store for about 36 hours. His blog post on the removal of Peace from the App Store provides instructions for getting a refund, and as for his reasoning for doing so, well, he “just doesn’t feel good” about contributing to the war on ad blocking. Ghostery support Arment’s decision to pull the app, and are calling the entire thing an “experiment”, with the “beta” app having a different approach to content blocking that was perhaps a little too black-and-white.
I never got around to sharing this last week amidst the iOS 9 news, but Apple CEO Tim Cook was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Cook talked with Colbert on a variety of subjects — Re/code has a decent summary — running through the new features of the iPhone 6s, as well as saying the recent spate of Steve Jobs films seemed opportunistic.
Apple’s Company Store has re-opened at the One Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, and it’s been given a complete overhaul: in addition to selling the usual Apple-branded merchandise, what was once known as the Company Store is now a full-blown Apple Store. Lacking only a Genius Bar and any third-party accessories, the Infinite Loop Apple Store in the US that has a unique layout which focuses on individual products. I love that Apple-branded merch is now in the company colours of Space Grey, Gold, and Silver, but where’s the Rose Gold, Apple?
Ars Technica has a review of the iPad mini 4. While it’s not the huge jump from previous versions people were expecting, it’s still more than the upgrade from the iPad mini 2 to the iPad mini 3. There’s a new laminated display that eliminates the air-gap between the LCD and the glass, also bringing along improved colour rendition. There’s an upgraded camera, as well as 2GB of RAM on-board to help with some of those new multitasking features in iOS 9. Like the iPad Air 2, Apple chose to remove the hardware mute/rotation-lock switch on the side of the iPad mini 4.
IFixit has taken apart the iPad mini 4, and found that while it has a physically smaller battery, battery life is more or less the same thanks to a more efficient A8 SoC. And that’s about it, really — minor internal changes aren’t of that much consequence (unless you plan on repairing the thing).
Six Colors says Low Power Mode in iOS 9 removes any of the “range anxiety” you used to feel with iPhones, without making the device any less useful. Turning on Low Power Mode early in the day means you battery can last longer into the evening, even with moderate use all day. Smart features like using the light and proximity sensors to detect when the display is face-down and prevent it from turning on to conserve battery power also help with battery life.
IMore has a list of features in iOS 9 that might not have made headlines, but are all useful in their own right. Siri’s new vibration-only mode lets you interact with the personal assistant in a more discreet manner, and having a separate album for screenshots (that also collects Apple Watch screenshots) is pretty great.
The iOS 9 keyboard now switches the letters between lowercase and uppercase, depending on the status of the Shift key. John Gruber of Daring Fireball says it’s the wrong solution for a problem that could have been fixed by fixing the root cause of the issue: the ambiguous shift key.
Both Instapaper and 1Password received facelifts with the release of iOS 9, with both apps also being updated to take advantage of new features. Instapaper gets side-by-side multitasking support and picture-in-picture video, while 1Password supports Spotlight indexing so you can find 1Password items right from Spotlight.
Apple’s Move to iOS Android app is getting rubbish reviews in the Google Play Store, and Russell Ivanovic of Shifty Jelly said Apple tried to make an Android app look like an iOS one, ignoring the design conventions of the platform and choosing to go with their own. From what I’ve read about the app it seems to work pretty well, though.
David Pogue says the Apple Watch has too many input mechanisms. But John Gruber says the issue is that the interaction model for the Apple Watch is wrong: it’s not that there are too many ways to interact with the Apple Watch, it’s that that all of them do markedly different things depending on the context.