Is the Apple Watch the New iPhone?

In last week’s presentation of new products, Apple covered only two items, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. And they led with the Apple Watch, which meant they were prioritizing the iPhone; save the best for last.

But the opinions of many tech journalists, and, apparently, consumers, suggest that the Apple Watch is the new, hot gadget. Many journalists have pointed out that there are no real innovations in this year’s iPhones. This is, of course, an “s” year, that Apple has gotten us used to; years when iPhone models add an “s” to their names, and feature only incremental updates. (However, some key technologies have been introduced in “s” years.) The iPhone XS and XS Max are extensions of last year’s iPhone X, and the iPhone XR is a “budget” version of the more expensive model.

But the Apple Watch caught the attention of many people. Apparently, pre-orders have been “above expectations,” while iPhone sales are tepid. One reason may be the new, large size of the Apple Watch, converting what has been a fairly small display to one that will be much more readable. And there’s the glitzy new Infograph watch face with multiple complications. And the stainless steel model now comes in gold.

Some are suggesting that the addition of an ECG feature may be swaying consumers, but I find that unlikely; while this is a useful medical tool, it’s hard to imagine that everyone wants to run ECGs on themselves (and I worry about what happens when people try to understand them). Fall detection is a very interesting feature, and, while it’s mostly for the elderly, there are other cases when it can be useful: epilepsy, perhaps car accidents, and more. It could be that consumers are seeing the potential of a wearable as a medical device, and that these limited features have convinced them to invest in one, in part because of existing technologies, but also because of the potential of the Apple Watch to change the way they look at their health with other technologies in the future.

This comes at a good time for Apple. The smartphone market has been mature for years, and is limping along on incremental upgrades. It’s good for manufacturers that many smartphones take a beating, so even if people keep them longer, they eventually need to upgrade. But it’s hard to imagine many interesting new features being added to this technology. Other than the new size, and the improved display and internals, there’s nothing in the new iPhone that sets it apart from last year’s model. (And that “groundbreaking” dual-camera system is neither new nor truly groundbreaking.)

Apple knows this, and will be pushing much of its innovation to the Apple Watch in the coming years. The company has already drastically increased the price of the device, in order to turn it into a cash cow, and there’s one big change they can make that could increase sales exponentially: make it a standalone device. The Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to set it up, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t exist on its own, so Android users can have Apple Watches too. While this wouldn’t offer full functionality, since there wouldn’t be the same tight integration with apps, notifications, etc. – an app on Android could manage the actual setup, and everything would function over cellular access, and all data could be stored in the cloud. The Apple Watch can already work without the iPhone after the initial setup, using cellular access, but it’s only a question of time before Apple makes it an independent device.

Of course, this is only a temporary solution; there are so many limits to the Apple Watch that it will never be able to do too much, but Apple’s focusing on health (they barely mentioned fitness in presenting this new model) shows how they want to make this device essential.

The iPhone will continue to sell by the tens of millions, but as sales become flat, Apple is poised to have another success on its hands with the Apple Watch. It will be interesting to see how far this device goes.

Apple Introduces New iPhones and Apple Watches

Today Apple introduced the latest models of the iPhone and Apple Watch at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus. If you’ve been following the Mac news sites, you’ve seen much of what was announced; leaks made this event less surprising that it often is. This is an “s” year, when Apple iterates the latest model iPhone without any major new features. There are two new top-of-the-line iPhones and one inexpensive model, similar in many respects to the flagship iPhones Xs.

As for the Apple Watch, the update was more interesting. Some major new health-related features join new sizes for the device. A redesign of some of the watch faces means that you will have access to more information at a glance. A new gold stainless steel model adds a bit of class to the product line.

Here’s what’s new:

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

The 7 most egregious fibs Apple told about the iPhone XS camera today – TechCrunch

Apple always drops a few whoppers at its events, and the iPhone XS announcement today was no exception. And nowhere were they more blatant than in the introduction of the devices’ “new” camera features. No one doubts that iPhones take great pictures, so why bother lying about it? My guess is they can’t help themselves.

To be clear, I have no doubt they made some great updates to make a good camera better. But whatever those improvements are, they were overshadowed today by the breathless hype that was frequently questionable and occasionally just plain wrong. Now, to fill this article out I had to get a bit pedantic, but honestly, some of these are pretty egregious.

As I watched the event, I was particularly struck by the expression “Remarkable new dual camera system.” There’s nothing new about it, nothing more remarkable than last year’s camera system, which, while very good, isn’t really remarkable in the industry.

The article dissects a number of claims that are really just fluff. Apple didn’t have much new to say about the camera, so they sort of made stuff up, or presented features that exist on other devices and tried to claim that they were Apple inventions.

The iPhone camera is quite good for what it is, but Apple has depended on the camera to sell iPhones for years, and if they don’t have anything really new, then they have to fudge a bit.

The thing with the background blur is interesting, though not unique to Apple, but all does is allow you to adjust the amount of blur that is applied to the depth layer of a photo by the software. I was actually more impressed by the ability to do that with the single-camera iPhone XR.

Source: The 7 most egregious fibs Apple told about the iPhone XS camera today | TechCrunch

Why Apple Needs to Improve the Camera in the iPhone

Apple will announce their new iPhones later today, and it’s time that they improve the camera. Not the lenses or the software; that’s what they’ve done in recent years. Adding a dual-camera system is great, adding software features like portrait mode is interesting. But the iPhone camera is still only 12 megapixels, and many other smartphones have much better sensors.

Apple increased the size of the sensor with the iPhone 5s, five years ago, and the iPhone X has a slightly larger sensor. They moved to a 12 Mp sensor with the iPhone 6s; that was three years ago. Bu other manufacturers have sensors that offer much greater resolution. The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 41 Mp sensor, and phones from Motorola, Asus, Huawei and Sony have sensors around 20 Mp.

Megapixels aren’t everything; optics are incredibly important, the ability of a sensor to work in low light is important (though part of that is related to the size of the sensor), and the software that makes the photos from the sensor is probably one of the most important elements. The dual lenses on certain iPhones allow you to have both a wide-angle and telephoto lens, which is great when you’re outdoors, but I find that indoors, the iPhone often switches to a zoomed shot of the wide-angle lens, with poor image quality, when I tell it to zoom.

I would love to see Apple add a monochrome sensor; this takes black and white photos by collecting luminance data, and nothing else. It’s a lot better than converting a color photo to black and white, but in smartphones it is used to add detail and contrast to color photos as well. (Huawei has a few cameras with this, as do a couple of other manufacturers.)

As we’ll see later today in Apple’s presentation of the new iPhone, the camera is incredibly important. In fact, it’s one of the few features they can tout that average users understand and appreciate. People take scads of photos with their phones, and having a better camera can get some people to upgrade. But while Apple’s software for converting sensor data to photos is excellent, they are lagging in the quality of the sensor. I hope that Apple ups the size to at least 16 Mp today; if they went higher, that would be a very good selling point to get people to spend more on an iPhone instead of buying one of the new cameras that have been announced in recent weeks.

Update: not much new in the camera hardware, and some improvements in the software.

iOS Lock Screen: Guide to Keep Data off Your iPhone Lock Screen

We use our iOS devices to keep us up to date on important information. With notifications that can display on your iPhone lock screen, you can see who’s emailed you, important messages, and much more. But with the default iOS settings, sometimes private data that you don’t want others to see can display on your lock screen, and anyone who can see your iPhone or iPad can potentially access personal information on your iPhone, even if it’s locked.

This means if your iPhone is lost or stolen, whoever has your iOS device will not need your passcode to look at the information that displays on the iOS lock screen. Even someone who randomly walks by your phone when you’re not there could potentially see sensitive information displayed on it while it’s locked.

Fortunately, Apple’s iOS contains a number of privacy settings to control what data can display on your lock screen, but many people ignore these options. Want to keep your sensitive information private? In this guide, we’ll show you what you can control and how to change these settings to keep private data off your iPhone lock screen.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

iOS 12 Screen Time App Will Help Reduce iPhone Addiction

We all know that our iPhones have a way of attracting us to their bright screens. Waiting for a bus? No problem, let’s just play a few levels of that new game. At the bank or doctor’s office? Why not browse Facebook or Instagram for a bit–we’ve all been there.

The advantage is that we always have something to do, but the disadvantage is that, well, we always have something to do. We have less downtime, less time to think, to ponder, to daydream. These activities help us be more creative, and even help us relax. Having a smartphone means that we spend more time looking at its screen than we probably should.

iPhone addiction has become a real problem, especially for kids, but many adults also find that these smartphones suck them in as well. In this week’s presentation of the new features coming in iOS 12, Apple showed off new tools to help combat the overuse of smartphones.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

iOS Trustjacking: How Attackers Can Hijack Your iPhone – The Mac Security Blog

The security researchers, Adi Sharabani and Roy Iarchy, presented a live demonstration of the attack. Sometime before the presentation, Sharabani had previously connected his iPhone X to Iarchy’s MacBook and tapped “Trust” in a dialog box on the iPhone–something many people do when they connect their iPhone to a computer.

During the presentation, Sharabani used his iPhone X to take a selfie with Iarchy, after which he sent a text message to┬átheir company’s CEO.

On the MacBook, Iarchy issued a command to Sharabani’s iPhone to back up its data over Wi-Fi, which is made possible by an iOS feature, called iTunes Wi-Fi Sync. After the synchronization was complete, Iarchy showed that both the selfie and the text message were easily accessible on his MacBook.

This is fascinating stuff. You “trust” a computer when you connect an iOS device; this is a security feature that ensures that when you connect a device to a computer, you have to choose whether it has access to the data on your device. This notably allows you to connect your iPhone or iPad to any computer to charge it without worrying about the computer and iTunes wiping the device. But the downside is that people may see the dialog and think they have to trust a computer to charge, if they do this, which opens up the device to access even via wi-fi.

Source: iOS Trustjacking: How Attackers Can Hijack Your iPhone | The Mac Security Blog

Access the New Battery Health Setting in iOS

Battery healthApple added a new Battery Health feature to iOS 11.3, which was released yesterday. This gives you information about how good (or not) your iPhone’s battery is. This is in response to issues around iPhones being throttled if their batteries are old.

To access this setting, go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. You’ll see the battery’s maximum capacity – the amount of power it can hold when fully charged – and its peak performance capability; this latter will be reduced if the battery is old.

This information shows up on my iPhone 8+, but not on my 10″ iPad Pro, or my iPad mini 4. My guess is that it only displays on those iPhones whose processors can be throttled if their battery is below nominal capacity. (iPhone 6 or later, and iPhone SE.) It would be useful, however, if it displayed on all iOS devices; I think users of old iPads might like to know what the maximum capacity of their batteries is, and potentially replace the battery when it gets low.

Apple Plans Giant High-End iPhone, Lower-Priced Model – Bloomberg

“Apple Inc. is preparing to release a trio of new smartphones later this year: the largest iPhone ever, an upgraded handset the same size as the current iPhone X and a less expensive model with some of the flagship phone’s key features.

[…]

With a screen close to 6.5 inches, Apple’s big new handset will be one of the largest mainstream smartphones on the market. While the body of the phone will be about the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus, the screen will be about an inch larger thanks to the edge-to-edge design used in the iPhone X. (Apple is unlikely to refer to the phone as a phablet, a term popularized by Samsung.)”

As an iPhone 8+ user, I can say that, while it’s a bit unwieldy, it’s great to have the extra screen real estate. There’s no reason to not make an iPhone X model that size, which will result in a massive screen.

The larger screen should especially appeal to business users, letting them write emails and manage spreadsheets on a screen about as big as a small tablet. Like the iPhone 8 Plus, the new handset will probably enable split-screen modes for certain apps. Still, the larger phone could cannibalize iPad sales, a category that recently started growing again.

I would think that anyone who needs this type of screen size regularly would more likely use an iPad. “Business users” want more comfort than just a slightly larger display on their phone. And remember, a 6.5″ display on an iPhone X isn’t that much wider; it’s a lot taller, and the height makes up most of the difference. So it may be better for viewing certain types of documents, but not all.

Source: Apple Plans Giant High-End iPhone, Lower-Priced Model – Bloomberg

Whose Fault Is This?

Yesterday evening, I was lying in bed listening to an audiobook. It was playing on my iPhone, and I was listening on my AirPods. Suddenly, the audiobook stopped. I picked up my iPhone, and saw that it was still playing. It took a few seconds for me to think of checking where the audio was going. When I did, I found that it was sending the audio to my car.

My partner had just gotten home, and parked the car by the side of the house; on the same side as the bedroom. The car would have been about 10m from where I was, roughly the limit of Bluetooth transmission.

But why did the iPhone switch? It knew I was listening on the AirPods; why did it think I wanted to listen in the car?

I don’t know which device – the car or the iPhone – caused this, but it’s wrong. The iPhone shouldn’t switch audio without an alert, or a dialog asking if I want to switch.