April 20, 2020

Snippet: The Eerie Beauty of the Apple Watch Solar Face, and the Anatomy of Nightfall ☍

Jack Forster for Hodinkee (via Timothy Buck):

As of WatchOS 6, which was introduced last September, there is a new Solar watch face. This one is simply called the Solar Dial, and it is a remarkably charming thing. It has been described as a miniature sundial for the wrist, but it is rather more like having a sundial and the Sun itself on your wrist, both at the same time. Moreover, it bears a certain resemblance to some rather exotic complications found in mechanical watches, about which more later.

The Solar Dial consists of a 24-hour dial with 12 (noon) at the top and 24 (midnight) at the bottom. An hour hand moves once around the dial per day, and attached to the hour hand is miniature representation of the Sun. The portion of the dial that’s in light blue represents the number of daylight hours, and the portion in dark blue, night; the boundaries between each section mark sunrise and sunset. Opposite the Sun on the 24-hour hand is a smaller dial which shows the hours and minutes, in either an analog or digital format. The four corners of the watch face are taken up with customizable complications (in my case, from the upper left clockwise: world time, date, activity tracker, and workout).

Since I’m not keeping track of much of the usual things, I switched to Solar Dial to try it out yesterday and have been enjoying how it’s different. If you have an Apple Watch, now might be a good time to give some different faces a try.

April 16, 2020

Snippet: Apple’s new $399 iPhone SE Couldn’t Have Come at a Worse Time ☍

Bryan Clark for The Next Web:

The launch wasn’t the spectacle we’re all used to. Apple quietly dropped the news to a handful of news outlets and then added a new page to the website. There were no black turtlenecks, no talks about a lack of diversity on stage, and no beautiful teasers meant to showcase its quality design. Oh, and one more thing… there was no “one more thing.” […]

$399 for a polished version of a four-year-old smartphone is worthy of a collective meh. Still, it’s a nice device at an even nicer price point. It features the same chip, the A13 Bionic, as the more expensive iPhone 11. It’s got a Retina screen — 4.7 inches of it, to be exact. It has what Apple is claiming is the best single lens camera system in a smartphone. It even has some snazzy new color options.[…]

But it’s not just a pandemic or the economy that Apple has to worry about. People just aren’t that crazy about new smartphones anymore. Americans are, on average, holding on to their older devices for three years. The iPhone, along with other smartphones, has lost some of its luster. We’re simply less inclined to drop $1,000 on the latest and greatest when our trusty two-year-old model works just fine.

This is one of the many iPhone SE articles that misses the point of the device. I’d venture to guess that the same kind of articles were also written four years ago. If you’re complaining about the iPhone SE feeling old or bland or not that exciting, it’s not for you.

This is the iPhone that is probably going to be replacing an actual four-year-old iPhone and give someone top-of-the-line processing power at a bottom-of-the-line price. On paper, it’s a good phone for the price, especially for people who don’t care about phones. It will also likely sit at that spot, maybe lowering in price, for years.

Is releasing a new phone in the middle of a pandemic a bad idea? Who knows, but Apple didn’t do this as a reaction to anything—it was just time and made sense to get rid of the 8/8 Plus now, rather than in September or October. The timing and feel were exactly like the original SE launch. There’s probably going to be some people that will really appreciate being able to upgrade now and my money is on that the new SE will be just like its predecessor—quality hardware at an affordable price. It will do that job perfectly for Apple.

April 15, 2020

Snippet: The Devastating Decline of a Brilliant Young Coder ☍

Sandra Upson for Wired:

In Cloudflare’s early years, Lee Holloway had been the resident genius, the guy who could focus for hours, code pouring from his fingertips while death metal blasted in his headphones. He was the master architect whose vision had guided what began as a literal sketch on a napkin into a tech giant with some 1,200 employees and 83,000 paying customers. He laid the groundwork for a system that now handles more than 10 percent of all internet requests and blocks billions of cyberthreats per day. Much of the architecture he dreamed up is still in place.

But some years before the IPO, his behavior began to change. He lost interest in his projects and coworkers. He stopped paying attention in meetings. His colleagues noticed he was growing increasingly rigid and belligerent, resisting others’ ideas, and ignoring their feedback.

Heartbreaking, but well worth your time to read the entire piece.

Snippet: A Trackpad and a Mouse Walk Into an iPad… ☍

M.G. Siegler:

Basically, this new functionality makes the iPad feel very, very close to using a computer. The iPad is a computer, of course. But I mean the traditional kind of computer. You know, the kind with a trackpad or mouse.

At times in recent days when I’ve been sitting at a desk using the iPad with a trackpad and/or mouse (I tried both — more on that in a bit), I’ve forgotten I was using an iPad at all. I have mixed feelings about this. But Apple has effectively turned the iPad into a laptop. A really nice one. One that runs iOS — er, iPad OS. Or whatever.

Plenty of others have shared similar stories, and I fully agree with the sentiment that it’s nicely done, but also drastically changes how the iPad works (in my case, at a desk). Mouse/trackpad + keyboard being good at times doesn’t mean a touchscreen is bad and vice-versa. I’m really enjoying the flexibility.

Snippet: Apple Announces New iPhone SE ☍

Apple PR:

Apple today announced the second-generation iPhone SE, a powerful new iPhone featuring a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, paired with Touch ID for industry-leading security. iPhone SE comes in a compact design, reinvented from the inside out, and is the most affordable iPhone. The new iPhone SE is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, to handle the most demanding tasks. iPhone SE also features the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone, which unlocks the benefits of computational photography including Portrait mode, and is designed to withstand the elements with dust and water resistance.

iPhone SE comes in three beautiful colors — black, white and (PRODUCT)RED — and will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, April 17, starting at just $399 (US).

Basically, it’s the same formula as 2016’s iPhone SE—take most of the features of the flagship model, remove some things budget-conscious consumers may not care about, throw it in an enclosure that the machining has already long been paid for. It’s an iPhone 8 design with a few tweaks, an A13, eSIM, and single wide-angle camera from the XR (no Night Mode). For what it comes with, it’s a bargain and will likely be a good replacement for some older iPhones. Plus, if it follows the prior SE’s timeline, it will hang around at the low-end and eventually drop a bit in price as other models are discontinued.

Sure, there are some people that wanted a new 4″ iPhone, but the reality is that everything is grown much bigger that the 4.7″ size makes a bit more sense today. While it may be an adjustment, it does keep with the rest of the industry and puts a target right on the Pixel a-models among others.

I think it hits all the right specs on paper and it seems most of the complaints are from people not in the SE’s target demographic, just like the original SE.