Category Archives: iPhone

iPhone

The iPhone 5 is a Great Piece of Tech

Updated Sep 16. I like the new iPhone 5 a lot. The 4 was a museum piece and 5 takes it to a new level of design goodness.

Apple is about simplicity. The features race is for the guys chasing the leader. What Apple does is make really good technical choices. They don’t go early on unbaked technology. They have the best volume pricing and availability of any phone maker so have their choice of exotic technologies. Their profit margins allow them to do whatever they want. We get incredible tech for the price.

To break it down, what stood out to me in the announcements, hands on reports and Apple’s iPhone 5 video.:

1. Feel. The feel of the device is extraordinary. Jony Ive says so and shows how they’ve done it. [Apple Video] People who’ve had hands on the device claim you will buy it if you hold it for 10 seconds. The fit and finish, texture, shape — these are subtle things and certainly hard to convey in a presentation. Gene Munster, who had hands on with the 5, calls it “a Rolex Among a sea of Timexes”. [Anandtech.com]

2. Size. The 4″ vs 3.5″ screen real estate is an 18%-sized chunk taller. I would probably be willing to sacrifice one hand use for a bit more real estate, but I’m satisfied with the improvement this time around. It is 18% thinner. 20% lighter. 12% less volume. Right – it is a smaller device overall than the iPhone 4S.

3. Museum Quality. People in the art and architecture world think about how great art and design elevate the human experience. The best iPhones so far from this point of view are the first, the 4 and now the 5. I haven’t had hands on the 5 yet, but the 5 should elevate us to a whole new level. I love carrying such a useful device that alters me at the same time. [Apple’s iPhone 5 Design page].

4. Speed. Anandtech.com was very pleasantly surprised by how big a speed bump Apple put into the iPhone 5. Up to twice as fast as the 4S. They didn’t think Apple would put in a new A6 chip loaded up with dual ARM Cortex A15 cores (correction, Apple is doing something custom in the A6 so Anandtech now (Sep 15) isn’t sure what is in there exactly). Double the RAM too (1 gb). Technology mavens know that an increase in speed increases the size of the playing field for creativity. Developer resources just shot up again and more is possible. The app marketplace will be inspired to find new and better applications for iPhone 5. [Anandtech on custom A6]

5. Better Screen. Anandtech reports the screen of the iPhone 5 is noticeably better than the 4S even in the very challenging lighting conditions in the demo room. 44% more color saturation compared to 4S. I can’t wait to see what a screen better than the amazing 4S screen looks like.

6. “Less but Better“. We know Jony Ive is and Steve Jobs was a big fan of Dieter Rams, the great industrial designer for Braun. Tenth of his famous 10 Principals of Good Design:

Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Chasing specs and new technologies is for the Samsungs of the world. Apple moves on these technology opportunities and new materials when the time is right. That doesn’t make them less innovative. Throwing tech up against the wall to see what sticks isn’t all that desirable. [David Chartier] [Apple’s iPhone 5 Features page]

7. The Apps. Apple’s ecosystem is ahead here and that lead is showing staying power. There is little profit on the Android Google Play app store. Windows Phone bombed in the marketplace. Windows 8 isn’t out yet. A few apps like Evernote are on Android in good form, but so many are markedly inferior or missing. Unless you are gung-ho for Android or buy multiple phones, I wouldn’t be straying from iPhone any time soon. My home screen showing the apps I use most is at left.

8. Thunderbolt and Lightning. The new small 8 signal iPhone Lightning connector won’t work with old docks but is overdue for an upgrade. Not going with the standard micro USB connector gave Apple the chance make it the best connector ever and to future proof it. Luckily, Apple’s track record and less is better attitude means they’ve thought this through and we’ll be happy with the end result. [MacWorld]

Should you upgrade? I have a 4S and I’m going to upgrade on day 1, but that’s no surprise.  I can trade my *old* 64gb iPhone 4S in for ~ $350 and buy a new 32gb iPhone 5 (with a new contract) for $299. I’m switching from AT&T to Verizon and paying the $215 cancellation fee. It is worth it to me to pay the extra charge to take advantage of this exquisite tool. If you get good use out of the the computer in your pocket and are a knowledge professional eligible for a full upgrade, why not upgrade?

My Plans. Personally, I’m leaning towards the white/silver version although I think the black/slate is pretty hot in a darth vader sort of way. I’m still sussing things out and plan to go online before preorders start tonight at 12:01 am PST. Planning to use my iPad’s Apple Store app to place the order. (Update, I preordered the 32 gb black/slate shown here due for delivery Sep 21)

The Highs and Lows of Apple’s WWDC 2012 Announcements


World Wide Developer Conference announcements today were chock full of great things including new Macs, Mountain Lion, iCloud and iOS6. I’m going to pick my favorites and identify a few disappointments as well.

The Hardware

Slim New Retina Macbook Pro

The completely redesigned Retina MacBook Pros were the most exciting announcement today. Two new lightweight retina models with 2880 by 1800 pixel 15 inch displays are available now. These are incredible machines weighing only 4.46 lbs but packed with unprecedented power. Their dazzling 4x resolution displays still deliver 7 hours of battery life.

The base model at $2199 has a 256 gb SSD drive and 8 gigs of RAM. The top model with a 512 gb SSD drive and faster processor goes for $2799. Both models are built on the new Ivy Bridge chip architecture. If you have the new high rez iPad, you will ache for one of these new Retina notebooks. Nothing else will do.

All of the new Macs come with a coupon for a free copy of Mountain Lion when it is released in July. Before we get to downsides, I wanted to mention that new iPad Smart Cases in six colors were released today and fit the iPad 2 and 3. $49.

Disappointment #1. Bringing up the rear in the hardware race are new Macbook Airs. Although they are more powerful and offer more for your money than last year’s models, no big game changers here. But, if you are fine working on a really good normal resolution display, you’ll get more speed with Ivy Bridge processors, two much faster USB 3/2 ports and 80% faster graphics processing. You won’t be hurting carrying around and using such powerful yet light and easy notebooks. The Air 11 at 2.3 lbs is about 1/2 the weight of the new retina MacBook Pro 15.

Disappointment #2. Although I haven’t ever owned a Mac Pro, many at WWDC were disappointed to see that the Mac Pro got a very minimal upgrade that did not include Thunderbolt or USB 3 or much of a power boost after a two year wait. No mention was made of new iMacs. Not now, but they will certainly come.

OS X Mountain Lion

While we are talking about Macs, I will highlight the best new features in Mountain Lion. A license for as many personal computers as you own will be only $20 and you’ll be able to upgrade from Snow Leopard if you aren’t running Lion yet.

Integration with iPhone and iPad is the big benefit of Mountain Lion. If you own one or two of these little devices (and that’s likely at this stage), you’ll want to be able to move your data seamlessly between all three.

Mountain Lion delivers four big features via iCloud that will make things much easier. These functions become much more valuable when they are everywhere! You are going to love your Mac again. You get:

  1. Docs in the Cloud. With Mountain Lion, the Mac can take its place alongside iPhone and iPad in creating a seamless experience with your iCloud-supported documents in Pages, Numbers, Keynote and many third party apps I use like IA Writer, Byword and many more.
  2. iMessage. Your Mac gets to play well with messaging on iPad and iPhone including sending text messages. You can start a conversation on one device and continue on the other.
  3. Notification Center. All your disparate Mac notifications get the iOS notifications treatment so are well-organized and contained in a readable list that can be viewed at any time.
  4. Reminders. This popular list maker already on your iPhone and iPad is now seamlessly kept by iCloud and just as available on your Mac. Each device can keep local items but also can keep lists in iCloud where they can be shared between your devices and Macs.
  5. Notes which will be a boon to those who use Notes on iPhone and/or iPad.

Three other new features made my day:

  1. Dictation is available in every app including Microsoft Word! When you and your Mac are all alone, you’ll find this new dictation feature can save a lot of time and allow you to capture your thoughts in a new, spontaneous way.
  2. Airplay mirroring from your Mac may come in very handy for making presentations or enlarging what you are working on to share with friends, family or colleagues. TV and video might be fun too!
  3. Safari is (finally) getting it a single box for both search and URLs. Safari is faster with the fastest Javascript on any browser.

Not to be outdone, iOS 6 came through with flying colors. My favorites are:

  1. A much more powerful Siri. And it will run in full on the new iPad. Best new power is the ability to launch apps.
  2. The ability to designate VIPs in Mail so you can see what is important quickly.
  3. iCloud Safari tabs that share between Mac and iOS devices. You’ll be able to pick up where you left off switching between devices.
  4. New iPhone calling features like the much appreciated new Do Not Disturb option with silent, non-vibrating notifications and lots of ways to quickly reply or remind yourself later.
  5. Robust and beautiful 3D Maps with turn by turn directions.
  6. Seamless integration with your Mac as mentioned above with Documents, Notifications, iMessages, Reminders and Notes.

IOS6 Disappointments:

  1. The first generation iPad and third generation iPod touch won’t run iOS6.
  2. Any feature you wanted that’s not here.

There are a million and one other features in iOS 6 that I’m not going to mention here. You can see lots more about the new hardware, Mountain Lion and iOS6 at Apple’s website. I recommend the video by Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield on the new retina MacBook Pros especially. The full Keynote is available on the Apple site.

Update Best of the Web on this so far [June 12 9 am PDT]:

What I Did to Migrate from MobileMe to iCloud

I migrated from MobileMe to iCloud last weekend and have lived to tell the tale. I’ve waited three days before posting just to see if something would go terribly wrong. But so far, so good. Just wanted to let you know what I did to get here in iCloud.

What is iCloud Again? iCloud is a whole new architecture for providing services to Apple devices from the cloud. In its first iteration, it supports email, photos, contacts, calendar, Find my iPhone and syncing iWork documents and other documents from iOS apps that adhere to its protocols in their construction. As a longtime computer professional, I was cautious about migrating to iCloud. [Wikipedia, Apple]

I have 3 Macs (2 MacBook Airs and an iMac running OS X Lion) and 3 iOS devices (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S and iPad 2). I also have used MobileMe for years and have used that data and done some syncing from my Macs and iOS devices to MobileMe.

I was concerned that the migration to MobileMe might get mixed up somewhere and cause me to either lose data or end up with a lot of duplicate contacts or calendar entries or even a little of both. So far as I can tell that hasn’t happened.

I have 2 Apple IDs. I have the Apple ID I got with MobileMe which is an email address I use and I have a different email address as an Apple ID I use to make iTunes and App store purchases. I was concerned what would happen with that. Would that be a problem?

I purchased the eBook Take Control of iCloud from tidbits.com and read everything in the introductory chapters plus the setup chapters and anything that pertained to MobileMe. This book goes out of its way to make sure you are aware of every gotcha that might occur and coaches you to take precautions necessary to avoid them. This emphasis on gotchas doesn’t make the book the most fun read, but it seems to have served its purpose.

I did 4 main things to get my Macs ready for Migration to iCloud:

  1. On every Mac, I made sure my software was up to date (your Macs need to be running OS X Lion 10.7.2 or later for them to be fully iCloud compatible — you can still use iCloud without Lion but it is probably better to wait). This was easy because I was already on Lion on these Macs.
  2. I backed up these iCloud related data sets: my Mail folder, my Safari bookmarks, my Calendars and Contacts. There is an Export command in Safari, iCal and Address Book. This takes very little time for each Mac except your Mail folder which is in the Library folder of your Home folder might be large and take a while to backup.
  3. I backed up all my Macs with SuperDuper. I use SuperDuper and its Smart backup option so that tends to take a couple hours per Mac.

Then I got my iOS devices ready in two steps:

  1. On every iOS device, I made sure I was on iOS 5.1 the latest versionI checked and I was already on 5.1 on all of my devices.
  2. I connected each iOS device to the Mac I have synced to and unchecked all syncing options under Information. The reason you want to do this is that you can run into a problem if syncing is set to be done both to your computer and to iCloud and it can generate a lot of duplicates. I had to apply the changes which triggered a full backup and upload of purchases and all the rest. Each of these took an hour or so. It might have taken less time but I hadn’t done this syncing in quite some time.

I was instructed in Take Control of iCloud to do all the migrations of all Macs first and then the iOS devices after. It advised to try to do them all sequentially rather than space this process out over days because you wind up with something weird if some Macs are wanting to use MobileMe and others iCloud.

Sunday night during the Grammies, I started doing migrations to iCloud. That all went pretty fast. I turned on most services but held back calendar and contacts wanting to avoid any chance of problems. I can’t say I got the full entertainment value out of the Grammies though.

I did have one problem in the process which I think is avoidable. After my Macs were migrated to iCloud, I turned on iCloud in my 3 iOS devices. That was OK. I turned on backup to iCloud (knowing I had complete backups on my Mac should they be needed). That was still OK, but then I said Backup Now on all 3 devices at once. I’m not sure that was a good idea. None of the backups finished before I went to bed. The iPad 2 said it would take 48 hours to backup. I let them all run over night with some trepidation.

In the morning, the iPad still had 24 hours to go it said, the iPhone 4S backup had failed and the iPhone 3GS had completed. One out of 3 aint bad maybe with my damn the torpedoes approach. I left the iPad plugged in and idle the rest of the day and it finished by evening. I kept using my iPhone 4S and figured I would try a backup once the iPad had finished. And that’s what I did. All done. From now on, the various devices can be told to backup now at any time but they should be plugged in and idle so overnight is the best time. I don’t plan to run multiple backups at once.

So far I have not seen duplicates in my calendars or contacts. Three days of normal use isn’t a very lengthy testing process. You may want to check back in a couple weeks if you aren’t in a big hurry to see if I’m still just as happy with the migration.

Also, I will either post again or do an update to this post to tell you how iCloud life is going. So far it is kind of invisible in an it just works kind of a way. Hoping that will continue and syncing will become a non-issue from here on out.

There were two big reasons to migrate. First, I wanted to take advantage of some the apps I have that can store their data in iCloud and make that data available seamlessly across my iOS devices and in some cases my Macs. Second, the clock is ticking on that June 2012 deadline when MobileMe will cease to exist.

I hope this will help some of you decide what to do about iCloud and help those of you who take the plunge. I do recommend that Take Control of iCloud book since my descriptions here are pretty cursory.

CEO Steve Jobs Exits – Filling Steve’s Shoes

I am a huge fan of Steve Jobs. He has taken some of the best dreams the computer industry has had and made them real – in fact enhanced them further. He’s made amazing technology available to the Masses. He has delivered on his goal to change the world. And then some.

But now Steve has kicked himself upstairs to the Chairman position where I think he will stay until death do us part. My impressions are that his health is failing and he must cut back severely to stay alive at this point. Barring a miracle, the end is near. So, what happens to Apple with Steve’s role further diminished?

First of all, I don’t see a successor to Steve Jobs anywhere at Apple or not at Apple. At Apple, Steve has been gutsy, bold and tireless. He has been idealistic but practical and committed enough to actually fulfill on those ideals. That’s a great human to emulate. He has also been a flag bearer for a vision of technology + art and humanities.

The problem for us, not so much for Apple, is that some of the things we’ve loved about Apple products may be diluted as Steve’s influence subsides. Values like excellence, aesthetics, design, minimalism and innovation may suffer without their strongest exponent – how could they not? Although a great man in his own right, Jony Ive isn’t going to be able to champion these values as well as Steve has done. If there is one more thing for Steve to do, it is to find that someone that can fill the gaps he will leave at Apple. All the other pieces are there right now. Apple is unstoppable – short term.

The Steve-sized hole I see at the future Apple is in these intangibles — we need an insanely great advocate who can go against the temptations to play it safe. For example, minimalism a la Dieter Rams’ ten principles, is bold. It is placing your bets and going for it. You don’t get little failures that way, you get big ones when things don’t go as planned.

When push comes to shove, Steve would stand in the fire and find that bold place. He has kept calling for redoes of various products well past the point anyone I’ve heard of would just say, we’re done. That’s a print!

But Steve was not cavalier or reckless. Look at that cash stronghold Apple’s got. Far from it. Steve has just been unwavering in his vision and commitment – and it paid off. Two of Steve’s greatest talents have been to (1) find and hire awesome people to work at Apple and (2) to inspire and cajole those talented people to work in tandem to accomplish great things. I would think a big part of the draw at Apple is to have this opportunity to change the world and work on cutting edge products. These people are still there and they are there not just for Steve.

We have the incredible people. We have a Steve-shaped hole that is only partially grown. I want Tim Cook at the helm right now. Stay there, Tim. Short term, I would like to see a CEO-wannabe arty, design kind of person developed within Apple’s midst or hired from outside (there are probably 10 of these or more at Apple right now) and brought onto the executive team asap. Maybe this person just helps make up for the hole. He or she doesn’t have to be CEO necessarily. But this person needs to make it easy for Jony to keep doing his thing at the level he’s been doing it.

My Stevie J man or woman would need to be a leader. Would probably need a pretty great track record. How do you fill this hole? As they say, though, when one door closes another door opens. Our whole world has learned from what Steve and Apple have wrought. For all I know, generations will be affected by these values. There are an awful lot of Apple fans. Look at China’s adoption of the iPad of late.

Don’t in any way consider this to be a negative opinion on Apple’s short term prospects. How can they lose? I’m hoping MG Siegler’s idea about Steve’s One More Thing comes true this fall. And, no one has written better and more insightfully about all this than Jean-Louise Gassée in his recent Monday Note: Who’s Going to Protect Us from Cheap and Mediocre Now?