November 1, 2018

Link: Tim Cook Talking to Lana Del Rey Was the Most Human Moment at Apple’s Event ☍

Julia Alexander for The Verge (video on linked item):

Fans of Del Rey’s previous work will immediately recognize the familiar dreamlike, almost apathetic tones on her new tracks. Despite the pleasant performance, which took place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, the most enchanting part happened after Del Rey stopped singing. Apple CEO Tim Cook came out to give Del Rey a hug and thank her for performing, and Del Rey confessed that she’s “always so nervous” about performing.

“No, I’m the one who’s nervous,” Cook said, laughing as he walked with Del Rey.

It’s an endearing moment, this little spontaneous burst of humanity! Apple spends so much of its time trying to connect its products to human beings — technological objects that enrich the lives and contribute to our world’s overall story — that can often lead to eye-rolls at its obvious marketing tricks. But this was a small, humbling exchange between people at the end of a successful presentation. And it reminds us that we’re all just nervous beings trying our best to make it through this world.

October 31, 2018

Article: Another Bricked Watch in the Fall

Even though I do most everything on iOS devices, the Apple Watch has become something that gets a lot of use throughout the day and I’ve grown to really enjoy it over the past few years. Back in September, I picked up a new Series 4 model to take advantage of the new features and to have a better experience than with my aging original Apple Watch Sport. Last night, in hopes of getting the electrocardiogram feature, I updated to watchOS 5.1 almost immediately and ran into some trouble. As it turns out, I feel that there’s a glaring hole in Apple’s support process when it comes to the Apple Watch…

Link: iPhone XR: A Deep Drive Into Depth ☍

Ben Sandofsky explains how the iPhone XR (and others) processes depth for portraits and the development process for making Halide provide capabilities beyond Apple’s own app:

With the introduction of iPhone XR, every phone in Apple’s lineup now supports depth capture. But the XR is unique: it’s the first iPhone to do it with a single lens. As we were starting to test and optimize Halide for it, we found both advantages and disadvantages.

The whole thing is a really fascinating read, especially with example photos to demonstrate the points. There’s also some discussion of how the iPhone XR relates to other iPhones and even the Pixel 3, another single-lens phone that takes pictures with a “portrait” effect.

Link: Sitting Out Upgrade Cycles ☍

Ben Brooks on yesterday’s iPad Pro updates:

I certainly want them, but I also know I have no need for them. Nothing I do on the 12.9”, aside from playing games, would be made better by the new hardware. And because of that, I think there’s compelling reason to let Apple flesh out this new hardware and Face ID for a bit before I spend quite a lot of money getting one.

I’ve long been saying to people that Apple devices in general have gotten so good, that there’s really not a compelling reason to update them that often. I certainly felt that way with the last round of iPhones, and now after having the iPhone XS for some time, I can say I’ve not noticed any positive impact to my life in upgrading. I think I would mostly feel the same way about the iPad Pro.

This has been my feeling about a lot of things Apple has released lately. On the one hand, it’s amazing that older devices still feel really good after a few years, meaning one can get plenty of use out of them instead of anxiously waiting for the next upgrade. I use an iPad Air 2 at work and it’s still great for everything I ask of it. My home Mac is a 2014 mini (not the base model) and I see no compelling reason to replace it. Devices being useful longer is great because it’s better for your wallet if you don’t upgrade, better for the environment, and keeps a healthy resale market alive.

On the other hand, Apple’s steady price increases to even get in the door on some models is becoming an exhausting experience. What used to be a back-and-forth of iPhone-and-Mac upgrades has grown to a lot more devices every few years. If one was all-in on Apple’s ecosystem, the jump between generations of a similar Mac/iPad/iPhone/Watch arrangement could be over $600 more this time around (the Macs yesterday started at $200-$300 more than before, iPads Pros are $150-$200 more, Watch is $70 more, iPhones are at least $50 more. Accessories like the Apple Pencil have also increased. While few upgrade everything at once, these little increases here or there are a bit concerning.

October 29, 2018

Article: DirecTV (Now) Not So Much

For those who regularly read this site, you may recall that I covered the launch and provided some updates a few months later on AT&T’s streaming service, DirecTV Now. I realized that with many things in the technology world, it’s easy to write about something, share opinions and experiences, and then move on. Since this had the makings of a long-term test, I thought it was best to check in again and share my current streaming setup…