Friday Morning News

Happy new iPhone XS, XS Max, and Apple Watch Series 4 day, everyone! There’s still plenty of news to cover, both from last week’s Apple event and all the other bits and pieces I just haven’t gotten to yet, so while you’re monitoring your doorstep for the delivery guy to rock up with your new shiny, why not check out the news? Then go back to obsessively refreshing the tracking status page, strolling past all the people lining up at an Apple Store so you can get in and check out the new hardware in person, or whatever else it is that people do on new hardware Friday.

Just like they did for the iPhone XS and XS Max, Apple has collected a bunch of Apple Watch Series 4 reviews and put them all in one place. Only the most effusive quotes were selected to be included in what’s probably more of a marketing/PR move than serious journalistic curation, but glancing at the publications cited really highlights the main difference between the iPhone and Apple Watch: while iPhone reviews were all from technology-focused websites, reviews from health and fashion outlets have been highlighted for the Series 4 alongside the usual suspects, which should tell you everything you need to know about where Apple has positioned the Apple Watch as a product.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed earlier this week about the new iPhone XS, XS Max, Apple Watch Series 4, and Apple’s exemption from US President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on Chinese goods. Speaking to Good Morning America, Cook justified the highest-ever price of the iPhone by saying that even though Apple wants to cater to a wide range of price points, those at the top end want the most innovative products available, and that doesn’t come cheap. MacRumors has the summary of the interview which has a point or two about how Apple escaped Trump’s China tariffs (“the iPhone is assembled in China, but the parts come from everywhere”), or you can watch the full 9-minute interview on Twitter.

There’s a minute-long video on Vimeo giving us a behind-the-scenes look at how Apple created the new motion faces included with watchOS 5, and Hodinkee has a few choice quotes from Apple VP of User Interface Design Alan Dye about why Apple chose to shoot all of it practically when they could have just as easily done it using computer graphics. If any of this — Apple using high-speed cameras to capture real-world effects to put them on your wrist — sounds familiar, it’s because Apple used similar techniques for the flower, butterfly, and jellyfish watch faces that were included with the original Apple Watch when it was introduced in 2015.

Director of Crazy Rich Asians Jon Chu shot a film entirely on an iPhone XS Max, showing off the video capabilities of the device. No additional equipment besides the iPhone was used for the shoot itself, and even though the final video was edited on a computer, no colour correction or post-production process was used, with all video used as-is straight off the device.

With any new Apple hardware purchase comes the decision of whether or not to get AppleCare+. In Australia, we don’t get a version of AppleCare+ that provides theft or loss protection like our friends stateside, but AppleCare+ may still be worthwhile if you’re either particularly prone to accidents, or have the fear or Apple’s out-of-warranty service pricing in you (iPhone, Apple Watch), the latter of which seems to rise with every subsequent generation of hardware.

Buried within the iOS 12 feature called Screen Time is App Limits and Downtime, both useful features if you (or one of your family members, as Screen Time also works with iCloud Family Sharing) is looking to kick a nasty social media habit or other unhealthy addiction to whatever is the new Candy Crush. While they’re all “soft” limits that can be delayed by 15 minutes or ignored entirely for that day, the idea is that if you’re being reminded that you’ve spend X amount of hours in a certain app, you might be more conscious of how much time you’ve spent idly scrolling through your Instagram feed and adjust your behaviour.

MacRumors also tells us how to use the augmented reality measuring app, another new addition in iOS 12. The problem is that even though it might seem like a great idea to measure things using nothing but your iPhone, the Measure app is not very accurate, and worse, can give you inconsistent results. It’s a good concept, but needs a little work — or some kind of explanation about optimal conditions, otherwise it’s a just neat party trick, not something you’d want to rely on.

How much you’ll get out of the new Shortcuts app will depend largely on the kind of things you use your iPhone to do. There are plenty of places to get ideas for shortcuts, though, to give you an idea of what you can accomplish with multi-step workflows. The Mac Observer has a few shortcuts to get you started, and Sharecuts also has a collection of user-submitted shortcuts for you to try on for size.

Of all the presenters on-stage at Apple’s event last week, Horace Deidu thought Apple VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson had the most interesting and profound presentation. A lot of that has to do with Jackson’s stated goal of Apple eliminating the need to mine new materials from the Earth, which can only be accomplished after Apple does three things: source recycled or renewable materials for all products, ensure products last as long as possible, and are recycled properly once they’ve been used. It’s this second point that’s the important one here, as it speaks volumes about how Apple thinks about product turnover and customer retention, recognising that sustainability is a growth business as much as, say, expanding into new markets is.

With every new introduction of Apple hardware comes the inevitable dropping of products from its lineup. At times, it’ll either be because Apple can’t find a place for it at an acceptable price point in their overall product strategy, or because it’s simply old and Apple cannot, in good conscience, continue to sell it. Which is why the death of the iPhone SE is curious; to be clear, it occupied a niche in Apple’s iPhone lineup, but with the design and form factor one appreciated by a somewhat vocal few, there’s no reason Apple couldn’t have kept it around for another year or two, at least until they decided if they were going to make a replacement.

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