October 13, 2016

Link: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Recall is an Environmental Travesty ☍

Jason Koebler for Motherboard explains how smartphone recycling mostly makes us feel better than it actually is:

Early Tuesday morning, Samsung announced it has permanently discontinued and stopped promoting the Galaxy Note 7, and has asked its customers to return their devices for a refund or exchange. A Samsung spokesperson told me the phones will not be repaired, refurbished, or resold ever again: “We have a process in place to safely dispose of the phones,” the company said.

This sounds reasonable, but the fact is that besides sitting in your nightstand drawer for eternity (a fate that will surely befall some of these phones) or being thrown into a garbage dump or chucked into the bottom of a river, being recycled is the worst thing that can happen to a smartphone.

September 21, 2016

Link: How Long Do iPhones and iPads Stay Fresh? ☍

Jon Keegan for The Wall Street Journal:

With the release this week of iOS 10 and iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, we reviewed all of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, to see how long each was able to refresh the software. The perception is that Apple drops support for older products, to encourage new sales. In fact, the company is supporting more of its products longer. (Maybe that’s bad news if you’re fishing for reasons to ditch your iPhone 6.)

The big winner was the iPad 2, which launched in spring 2011 running iOS 5. Apple continued selling the tablet for three years, and it was compatible with fresh iOS versions even longer. Though Apple hasn’t sold the iPad 2 since 2014, its 2,013-day run of current-iOS compatibility ended this month with iOS 10’s debut.

This is a fascinating look at the longevity of various iOS devices and counters an argument that I’ve heard numerous times from people that don’t particularly follow Apple closely. The confusing part of that logic is that if Apple purposely made products worse or unsupported, wouldn’t people leave in disgust? If anything, Apple supported the iPad 2 for a bit too long.

September 14, 2016

Link: iOS 10 is a Pleasant Surprise for the iPhone 5 and 5C ☍

Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica:

For the first time in a while, I’m comfortable recommending the latest version of iOS for the oldest-supported iPhone without major caveats or qualifications. Yes, newer iPhones are faster and can do more things, but if you’re still using an iPhone 5 or 5C (or if you’ve handed your old one down to someone else in your circle of family and friends), iOS 10 will treat the hardware about the same as iOS 9 did—not bad, given that the iPhone 5 is four years old.

I wasn’t using an iPhone 5C as my daily driver, but I did load the betas on it and have been very impressed with the performance. You shouldn’t hesitate to install this update if you have any supported device it runs on.

September 2, 2016

Link: The Problem with iPad ☍

Dan Counsell finds the iPad to be lacking when it comes to many tasks, especially in contrast with the Mac:

The iPad is not a pro machine. I know a lot of journalists use the iPad full time, and that’s fine. The reason they can use it full time is that typing text has very low system requirements. However, as soon as you need to move files from one app to another, or unzip a document the iPad starts to make your life more complicated.

While, I disagree with a number of points in this article, it does point out that it’s easy to make excuses where the iPad replaces the Mac easily in theory. Some things, like direct manipulation of virtual controls or anything drawing-related on an iPad Pro or any sort of reading/writing seems to either be easier or more enjoyable on the iPad. That being said, I maintain the idea that both devices currently have their places and debating over which is better is somewhat silly. Currently, macOS has a head start on iOS on the iPad by about ten years, not to mention that both have progressed quite differently. For example, very early versions of OS X didn’t have .zip support (and even in the classic Mac OS days, there was no support outside of utilities like StuffIt Expander), but that is just one example. I suspect there will be some convergence at some point, but I think the idea of using which device you find better for your needs is the best and neither has to win.

That being said, the idea of basic mouse support in iOS is fascinating:

I know this sounds crazy and it might be a little controversial, but I’d actually like to see mouse support in iOS. That way I could sit down at a desk with a keyboard and a mouse and use the iPad more effectively. I think the pencil is part way towards this, but it’s not the real deal. I like using the pencil to interactive with the iPad. It might be because it’s more comfortable, as well as the fact the pencil gets in the way less. It’s perfect for scrolling lists and tapping buttons. I’ve heard other people say this too, so I know it’s not just me.

Although I have my work-issued MacBook Air that is great for my daily tasks, I’ve toyed with the idea of if I could do everything with an iPad. Throwing a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse could help in “desk” mode, if you treated a mouse like a secondary input, much like the Apple Pencil. I’d still want to use touch, since that’s what iOS is designed around, but in a few cases a mouse could be a great addition: remote desktop tools or selecting/changing the cursor point when you have a keyboard attached (you lose the virtual trackpad).

August 2, 2016

Link: iPad-Only is the New Desktop Linux ☍

Watts Martin (via Ben Brooks):

Even in the best case scenario, the Mac’s speed blows iOS away. Not because of CPU power, but because iOS’s design just doesn’t handle a task like this as gracefully. It’s possible it would have been faster if I were using a different set of apps, ones aware of each other in a deeper fashion. But on the Mac, I could have used any email program and any word processor that handled Word’s revision tracking and followed the same steps.

Like many others, I’m getting tired of the iPad-can’t-do-x sentiment. While I could riff a list of things that a Mac is better suited for, I could also take this one step further and list things that a Mac can’t do that a PC can (Boot Camp/Parallels notwithstanding). Does that mean we should throw away our Macs and get something else? No.

Ultimately, the iPad is a pretty damn good computer for a lot of people. Rather than arguing or feeling threatened that Apple is going to take away your MacBook, why not find the device that works best and use it? Continue to re-evaluate your tools, just as the tools available evolve. This is what makes technology exciting, too. Besides, if you recall, the iPad is a much more powerful and capable device than it was two or three years ago. I’d like to mention a very appropriate comment by Initial Charge’s Michael Rockwell, too:

Perhaps you prefer to use OS X to get your work done because you’re more comfortable with the tools — that’s fine. But arguing that one platform or another is better suited is just foolish. I like iOS more because it fits my lifestyle and offers tools that I typically enjoy using more than their desktop counterparts. And that shouldn’t impede your enjoyment of OS X — there’s no reason we can’t both coexist harmoniously.