The Camera Features on the iPhone XS and XR Bring New Possibilities

People buy new smartphones for many reasons: some for the apps they can run, others for the ability to watch videos and play games, but one feature that drives many to upgrade is the camera. All smartphone makers work hard to improve their cameras to entire users to opt for newer devices, and Apple has done this for years. With this year’s iPhone models – the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR – Apple has brought new possibilities to the camera. (Read our review of the iPhone XS Max here.) But it’s not just the sensors or lenses that change; the real innovation these days is in the software that creates photos called computational photography.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

Review: The iPhone XS Max is a Max iPhone at a Max Price

With the second iteration of Apple’s iPhone X line, the company moved from a single device to three versions: the XS, the XS Max, and the lower-priced XR. The two new flagship phones, the iPhone XS and XS Max, are almost exactly the same other than for the size. The larger display doesn’t let you see a broader scene, it’s just bigger.

The iPhone XS is about the same size as last year’s iPhone X, and the XS Max is a hair smaller than the 8 Plus and 7 Plus models. Respectively, the iPhone XS, XS Mac, and 8 Plus have displays that are 5.8″, 6.5″, and 5.5″, so even the smaller model has a larger display than the biggest pervious iPhone. However, the display area is taller, so it’s not an easy comparison. You could go for the iPhone XS if you want the same size display as the larger standard iPhone model, or the XS Max to have the same size phone as the Plus models with a much larger display.

Read the rest of the review on the Mac Security Blog.

iPhone XS: Why It’s A Whole New Camera – Halide

iPhone XS has a completely new camera. It’s not just a different sensor, but an entirely new approach to photography that is new to iOS. Since it leans so heavily on merging exposures and computational photography, images may look quite different from those you’ve taken in similar conditions on older iPhones.

The developers of the Halide app for iOS – a photo app that notably shoots in raw – explain how the iPhones XS camera is so different from its predecessors. He goes into great detail, and it’s worth reading this if you’re a bit of a photography geek and want to know how to manage this new device.

Source: iPhone XS: Why It’s A Whole New Camera – Halide

Apple’s Most Lucrative iPhone Feature Is Storage – Bloomberg

Apple is tackling a global smartphone industry slowdown by raising iPhone prices, offering new digital services, and wringing more profit from parts that are becoming more commoditized. Selling more storage with iPhones is a powerful example of the latter strategy.

[…]

Ponying up for extra storage could lead iPhone users to spend more in other ways, too. People who’ve become accustomed to having what seems like a bottomless pit in their phones are likelier to cram the devices with more music, apps, movies, and subscriptions, boosting Apple’s services revenue. And Apple is charging anyone who wants an iCloud plan to back up their entire 512GB phone an extra $9.99 a month for 2 terabytes (2,000GB) of remote storage.

It’s really ridiculous that Apple doesn’t increase the basic amount of iCloud storage you get, especially for those who have multiple devices.

Source: Apple’s Most Lucrative iPhone Feature Is Storage – Bloomberg

What a Hellish Experience it Is to Restore an iPhone

IMG 8125I’m sure you’ve had to restore your iPhone at least once. Stuff happens, you try to reset some settings, but it still doesn’t work as it should. Since yesterday, I’ve been having trouble connecting to cellular networks on mine. If I put the SIM card in my iPhone SE, that works fine, so it seems to have something to do with iOS 12. I tried resetting network settings, and that worked for a few minutes, but then the same thing happened.

So, it was time to restore the iPhone. I have a 15 Mbps internet connection, so the 3+ GB download for iOS only took about an hour. But then there’s all the apps to re-download. Because iTunes no longer manages apps, you have to redownload potentially tens of gigabytes of stuff. If you have music and photos in the cloud, you have to download some of them, but the apps alone make this process painful.

In addition, you can’t pause the process; you can only put the phone into airplane mode. So if you do need to use the phone to make calls or use data, your connection is saturate, and you’re limited for the several hours it takes to get everything downloaded.

When I think about all those who have even slower internet access than I do, I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry about Apple, who assumes that everyone has fiber, and can restore an iPhone in five minutes. It’s really quite a bit of contempt for many of Apple’s users. It makes life really complicated.

Is the Apple Watch the New iPhone?

In last week’s presentation of new products, Apple covered only two items, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. And they led with the Apple Watch, which meant they were prioritizing the iPhone; save the best for last.

But the opinions of many tech journalists, and, apparently, consumers, suggest that the Apple Watch is the new, hot gadget. Many journalists have pointed out that there are no real innovations in this year’s iPhones. This is, of course, an “s” year, that Apple has gotten us used to; years when iPhone models add an “s” to their names, and feature only incremental updates. (However, some key technologies have been introduced in “s” years.) The iPhone XS and XS Max are extensions of last year’s iPhone X, and the iPhone XR is a “budget” version of the more expensive model.

But the Apple Watch caught the attention of many people. Apparently, pre-orders have been “above expectations,” while iPhone sales are tepid. One reason may be the new, large size of the Apple Watch, converting what has been a fairly small display to one that will be much more readable. And there’s the glitzy new Infograph watch face with multiple complications. And the stainless steel model now comes in gold.

Some are suggesting that the addition of an ECG feature may be swaying consumers, but I find that unlikely; while this is a useful medical tool, it’s hard to imagine that everyone wants to run ECGs on themselves (and I worry about what happens when people try to understand them). Fall detection is a very interesting feature, and, while it’s mostly for the elderly, there are other cases when it can be useful: epilepsy, perhaps car accidents, and more. It could be that consumers are seeing the potential of a wearable as a medical device, and that these limited features have convinced them to invest in one, in part because of existing technologies, but also because of the potential of the Apple Watch to change the way they look at their health with other technologies in the future.

This comes at a good time for Apple. The smartphone market has been mature for years, and is limping along on incremental upgrades. It’s good for manufacturers that many smartphones take a beating, so even if people keep them longer, they eventually need to upgrade. But it’s hard to imagine many interesting new features being added to this technology. Other than the new size, and the improved display and internals, there’s nothing in the new iPhone that sets it apart from last year’s model. (And that “groundbreaking” dual-camera system is neither new nor truly groundbreaking.)

Apple knows this, and will be pushing much of its innovation to the Apple Watch in the coming years. The company has already drastically increased the price of the device, in order to turn it into a cash cow, and there’s one big change they can make that could increase sales exponentially: make it a standalone device. The Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to set it up, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t exist on its own, so Android users can have Apple Watches too. While this wouldn’t offer full functionality, since there wouldn’t be the same tight integration with apps, notifications, etc. – an app on Android could manage the actual setup, and everything would function over cellular access, and all data could be stored in the cloud. The Apple Watch can already work without the iPhone after the initial setup, using cellular access, but it’s only a question of time before Apple makes it an independent device.

Of course, this is only a temporary solution; there are so many limits to the Apple Watch that it will never be able to do too much, but Apple’s focusing on health (they barely mentioned fitness in presenting this new model) shows how they want to make this device essential.

The iPhone will continue to sell by the tens of millions, but as sales become flat, Apple is poised to have another success on its hands with the Apple Watch. It will be interesting to see how far this device goes.