Tag Archives: apple

ITESM in today’s Apple Event

ITESM @ Apple Event

Many of you may have heard about an Apple Event earlier today in which OS X Yosemite launched, new iPads were released, and an impressive iMac with a 5k Retina Display came out.

What you may have heard is the brief screen time my Alma Mater, ITESM (a.k.a. Tecnológico de Monterrey) got while Craig Federighi was talking about Apple’s new programming language Swift (they are also mentioned in this page if you follow the link).

I wonder who’s teaching the course.

Spotted by Nathan B.

The MKX® iPhone 6 review

As the editor of a major technical news website (this one) I am forced to upgrade my iPhone every year so you can read my refined opinions. Let’s do it.

Getting the review unit

The pre-order process was rough. Not only did I have to wake up at 2 AM on a weekday in excruciating back pain (different story) but the Apple Store website was having trouble – flashbacks to trying to buy World Cup tickets. I almost gave up…

… but a helpful soul on Twitter caught wind of my whining and alerted me that the website was back up and I was able to place my preorder.

The phones went for sale on Friday. I was able to skip the line at shul The Apple Store, and that was good because it was rough:

This is a panorama I shot of the line outside of the Apple Store at The Domain (left).
This is a panorama I shot of the line outside of the Apple Store at The Domain (left) sometime around 8:30 AM. Click to enlarge.

Battery life

I’ve only had the phone for a few days and so far it seems like the battery lasts longer than the iPhone 5s, which was just fine. This is not going to be a concern.

Missing in Action

Apple Pay. I like my wallets to be thin. The added bulk of a credit card kills me. So anything that helps avoid carrying more stuff in my wallet is welcome. Unfortunately, Apple Pay isn’t out yet so I can’t test it just yet. And not every place will take it so I will still have to carry the credit card for the foreseeable future. Dang.

Camera

I haven’t used it that much yet! So I can’t tell. Instead I will direct you to some reviews about the camera. In summary: it seems to be better than the previous iPhone 5s which had the best camera of all smartphones, 42 MP Nokia fat-phones be damned. This is important to me because

  1. I care that my photos look decent
  2. For the most part I don’t want to carry a large dedicated camera
  3. I am going to be taking a lot of photos starting in late October

So read “Apple’s iPhone 6 Has Finally Convinced Me To Ditch My Compact Camera” and  look at this crazy photos taken in Iceland and watch this video taken in Disneyland which is impressive because of how there’s no shake and how quickly the video adapts to the changes in darkness and light.

The camera does have one big drawback: the lens sticks out a little bit. If you use a case, then it’s a non-issue. If you don’t use a case, the phone will wobble on it’s invulnerable sapphire lens. Me? I use a case.

Screen

It looks great, and it can fit more content in it’s 4.7″ than the old 4″ iPhones (duh!). I like reading from it. But adding a large screen it has a big drawback…

Size

Left: iPhone 5s. Right: iPhone 5
Left: iPhone 5s. Right: iPhone 5. Hand model: Marcos. I tried to make the scale of the photo roughly the same. The size difference is striking.

It’s big, and this is the “small” model, not the gigantic iPhone 6 Plus. I get it: the demand for a larger iPhone was huge. And then there is that dirty little secret every other phone maker hasn’t told you yet: making large phones is easier. Apple can’t keep doing both forever: competing in specs and make the phone smaller. The market has spoken loud and clear. The giant iPhones are upon us.

The phone is very thin though, even with the case. And since it has rounded corners it slides in and out of my pocket just fine and doesn’t bother me at all – which was a pleasant surprise.

But oh boy, one-handed use suffers big time. You can’t reach the top of the screen without some impressive hand calisthenics , and the phone feels top heavy, precariously close to tipping over.

In the past years while at the public restroom at work I’ve accumulated accolades from both peers and higher ups due to my ability to keep up with my RSS feed while I urinate. This is going to be a lot harder now, and just imagine the embarrassment when my phone falls into the urinal while I try to tap that out of reach button (note to self: look into this). Reputations take years to build up, but a mere instant to destroy. Reachability may help, but it’s not yet second nature to me and it still seems like an inelegant easy way out. The original iPhone was a pleasure to use with one hand – at the expense of screen real estate. The new iPhone flips the table. Perhaps modern medicine can come to the rescue?

Other

The phone with its A8 processor feels faster, which is cool but not in a way you notice right away. In my experience, jumps in performance were similar across iPhone generations with the notable exception of the 3GS which was a much faster than its antecessor. But the speed bump is definitely there, and when you go back to use the previous phone, it feels sloooow. Every small gain in performance makes the thing more pleasurable to use and it adds up over time.

The phone now has a barometer, so not only do you know how many steps you take in a day, but how many floors you climb. I will be testing this more this week.

And I am selling my old factory unlocked pristine 32 GB iPhone 5s. Great phone, usable with one hand anywhere in the world. Supplies are limited! Hurry up!

Additions (September 22)

  • The lock button was moved from the top to the right of the device. This is a good idea, because the top is hard to reach with one hand. But there’s a drawback: the lock button is now opposite from one of the volume buttons, so if you squeeze the phone to lock it, you may end up pressing the wrong button.
  • Touch ID (fingerprint sensor) seems to be a lot faster and a lot accurate. This may or may not be my imagination or due to the fact that I just programmed it – but my guess is that it’s a new revision of the hardware.
  • Apps that aren’t yet updated for the iPhone 6 look zoomed in. This makes everything look larger, means that the app doesn’t take advantage of the added screen space, and that the keyboard is larger. The last point is a big problem, since one relies on muscle memory for fast typing, and switching keyboard sizes is ver bad for that.

T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling from outside the U.S.

T-Mobile now supports Wi-Fi calling on iPhones with iOS 8 and higher. This is a big deal to:

  1. People who live in the U.S. but travel abroad
  2. People who live outside the U.S. but have a VoIP (like Vonage) line back in their home country, and/or have U.S. SIM cards for their travels to the U.S.

Since I know a lot of people in the first group (including myself), and a lot of people in the second group, I feel like explaining:

If you have a T-Mobile line, you can use it from anywhere outside the U.S. for voice calls to U.S. numbers as long as you are connected to Wi-Fi. No roaming charges apply. You can receive calls too. See this FAQ.  And as before, you get cell-phone data and SMS messages.

And when you are in the U.S., you can of course use the cellphone normally. Including using data and Personal Hotspot. Or texting from airplanes at no additional charge. This will work on iPhone 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus (this has existed in other phones since before iOS supported it).

See the following screenshot: phone is in Airplane Mode but with Wi-Fi, and I’m making a regular phone call to a regular phone line. To use this, upgrade to iOS 8 and enable in Settings -> Phone.

wifi calling

This is really outstanding.

Exclusive: Apple/Beats first joint product revealed

Many Bothans died to bring us this information. A The MKX® exclusive, “The iBeats”:

iBeats headphones by Apple

And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984”

Ten years ago (yes, The MKX® is that old) I posted a side-by-side comparison of the original 1984 commercial and the updated twentieth anniversary version shown in 2004. It even made it to the venerable MacSurfer’s Headline News. Sadly, modern QuickTime doesn’t like that video, maybe it dropped whatever codec I used, or the file got corrupted, or something.

So today, for the thirtieth anniversary (!) I whipped out good ol’ QuickTime 7 to put it together again. Here’s the YouTube version:

And for those of you who’d like to download the QuickTime file with both videos embedded (you can play with each element in QuickTime 7 in the properties dialog for the movie), a link to the original MOV file. Download the file and open in QuickTime 7. The browser embed messes it up (go figure).

And last, this is my Twentieth Anniversary 1984 poster, given out after the keynote by Steve Jobs at MacWorld 2004.

1984 poster.jpgWhere is my Thirtieth Anniversary version, with the girl wearing an iPhone in an armband?

Late night surgery

Last year I upgraded Shlomit’s MacBook Pro to an SSD. A few months ago I upgraded my MacBook Pro. The only little Mac left behind with its puny little spinning platters was my Mac mini. So I finally broke down and bought an SSD for it. This time it was a 250 GB Samsung 840.

Samsung 840 SSD

Similar to the last times, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to transfer the contents of the original 2.5″ hard drive to the SSD. This took about three hours over USB 2. Slow but without a hitch.

CCC

But one thing would be different this time: turns out that when Apple ditched the DVD drive on the Mac mini, it left room for a second internal hard drive. So I can fit both the original drive and the SSD in the little box! Great. The problem: You need a special cable to do this. The solution: OWC ‘Data Doubler’ SSD/2.5″ Hard Drive installation Kit.

For $35 you get:

  • A little ribbon cable to connect the drive
  • Four cute screwdrivers: two were needed for the installation, two were not, and a third type that was needed did not come in the kit but thankfully I had it.
  • Four screws.
  • Four rubber bumper thingies.
  • A piece of green plastic they call “pry tool” and was actually super useful.
  • A U-shaped piece of bent metal, effectively used to move the computer’s motherboard out of the chassis.

A rip-off? Hardly, because they also bundled a very detailed manual with great photos and step by step instructions. Trust me, the booklet alone was worth the price. This was one tricky installation, they sure pack those little boxes tight.

mini
The Mac mini 40% into the installation. These little boxes fit together like one of those impossible to put together wooden puzzles.

I’m happy to report that although it took a long time, the operation was a success. The computer is a lot faster now. Nobody should be forced to use magnetic hard drives anymore. Now all I need to do is decide how to best distribute all my stuff across the 5 (five!) hard drives connected to this machine. I want iPhoto to be fast, but my giant library won’t fit in the SSD. Questions, questions…

Mapping it all out

google_maps_iphone

Anyone who is tech-savvy enough to read this blog has undoubtedly heard about the “Apple Maps debacle”. The press has written lots and lots about it – some justified, most over-simplified link bait, as follows:

  1. Apple hates Google ‘cuz they copied the iPhone
  2. Apple wants Google off the iPhone so it created its own Maps, got rid of Google Maps
  3. Apple Maps suck.

The reality is, of course, much more complicated. Since their negotiations happen behind closed doors, all we can do is use what we know and speculate on the rest. My take follows.

Continue reading Mapping it all out

Google is not making any friends

From Counternotions:

For over a decade, Microsoft — the monopolist of its era — treated its customers on Macs as second-class. Its Office suite never achieved parity with its Windows sibling, even when the differences were not dictated by platform architectures. Whether it was document compatibility, font-metrics, macros, integration with other Microsoft software or myriad other gotchas, Mac versions were always lacking. Every new version of Office promised better compatibility but never really delivered it. Worse, Microsoft never quite integrated Apple-grown technologies into Office to better blend it into the Mac ecosystem, claiming it would break cross-platform compatibility with the Windows versions.

Sadly, this wasn’t an occasional inconvenience but a source of daily frustration for millions of paying customers, corporations and individuals alike. With business so dependent on Office, Microsoft’s message was loud and clear: if you want the real thing switch to Windows.

Sufficiently annoyed by all the trouble, some users did.

Most didn’t, and haven’t forgiven Microsoft ever since.

Therein lies a lesson for Google

I should not need to spell out the analogy they are making, but here it goes anyway:

“Google Maps is to iOS is what Microsoft Office is to Mac OS”

To be fair, Mac users resent Microsoft for more than that. After all, Microsoft ripped off Apple’s groundbreaking user interface whole-heartedly when they created MS Windows.

Oh, wait…

iPhone 5

I debated long and hard whether to upgrade to the iPhone 5 or not. Three minutes later I decided to upgrade. I will attempt to write something coherent about it that is different from all the hundreds of reviews out there. If you want a review, Ars Technica is a good place to start.

Read more…

Continue reading iPhone 5

Samsung vs Apple

The Samsung vs Apple trial opened today. Apple is accusing Samsung of “slavishly copying” its designs, specifically for the iPhone and the iPad.

Samsung is a gigantic company that can put together impressive high-technology products like almost no other company in the world. They build components (screens, chips) and they build end products. They should be admired for this.

But it’s obvious to me that there is a deeply ingrained culture of copying other companies’ successful designs and not respecting their intellectual property. They make the highest quality, most reputable KIRFs. The phone market is probably where this shows the most obvious. This is not new and is not just about Apple.

Examples:

Does this phone remind you of any other phone? Perhaps one that was quite successful a just few years ago? If you can’t see how this phone is a close copy of Blackberry, then let me convince you: coincidentally, this phone was named “Blackjack“. Is that close enough?

Here’s a slightly older model. Its thin flip-phone form factor may remind you of a very popular phone made by Motorola in the mid-2000s: the RAZR. It could have been worse, of course… they could have called it Samsung BLDE. Instead Samsung kept all the vowels and called it Blade. To avoid confusion, of course.

And here is the Samsung Galaxy at the heart of the lawsuit, next to an iPhone. Even the background color of the phone app icon is the same! At least they did not call it sPhone or iSamsung. So… copy or gigantic coincidence?

There’s many more examples floating around the web: cables, packaging, their tablet. We’ll see how it develops. Samsung may get away with it because what they did is still legal as defined by the law. But nobody should pretend that there’s no copying going on.