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Daily analysis on Apple, gadgets, tech news, and more.
A feed by Lance Somoza
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-17 16:52
Brian Heater for TechCrunch:
A spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”
On the last two Fatherboard episodes, I speculated this might be the case since we hadn’t heard anything more from Apple on a release date.
This isn’t one of those must-have-on-day-one products, so I doubt there will be any backlash in Apple taking the time to get it right. Furthermore, delaying past the holiday shopping season speaks volumes on how much they care about their products. They don’t want to rush something out that is unfinished.
Still crickets on that iMac Pro, though…
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-17 05:45
Remember the delight of experiencing iPhone for the first time back in 2007? That vision of the future, free from flip phones, T9 texting, WAP websites, carrier logos plastered all over your device — the list goes on.
Ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and there is still no mistaking the clear and apparent magic dwelling in every iPhone. Never has that been more apparent than iPhone X — Apple’s modern masterpiece.
As much as the original was a vision of the future, so is iPhone X, as a wondrous piece of magic glass.
Apple has never been afraid of changing the iPhone experience on us when new technology demands it. Never before, though, have they changed it so radically than is apparent with iPhone X. Never before has Apple released three different flagship phones with differing interface elements. You know what they say — never say never. Apple is keeping us on our toes.
It’s a year of massive change for iPhone, so let’s dive in with my most extensive review yet.Read More
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-11 21:57
After brief woes on the Dodgers, we dig into our amazing experiences using iPhone X over the past week ahead of Lance’s forthcoming review.
Note: In this episode, we may have accidentally said the phone has been out for two weeks, when it really has been one.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-08 00:31
Warning: you are entering first world problem territory.
The car I bought earlier this year has Apple CarPlay, and it’s fantastic. If you’re not familiar with the functionality, CarPlay allows your iPhone to display a specially-designed iOS interface on a compatible car’s touchscreen. You can then access a set of stock iOS apps like Phone, Messages, Maps, and Podcasts, etc., along with a few select third-party apps such as Overcast, Tune In Radio, and Spotify. In other words, your car’s touchscreen acts like a secondary display for your phone. It is highly simplistic by nature, but leaps and bounds better than crappy ‘infotainment’ systems and their crappy interfaces.
I love CarPlay mostly for Maps 1, as it displays directions on your car’s screen just like a standalone GPS would. Siri is also super helpful in the car when composing an iMessage or placing a call — the usual stuff.
The only downside of CarPlay is that I have to plug in my phone every time I get in the car. I don’t have the freedom to just start the engine and have it connect automatically like it would if I were using a standard Bluetooth connection that’s been around for years. Sure, it’s nice that the phone also begins charging since it’s plugged in, but unless I’m on a road trip, I would be more than happy with a slower charging rate say via… wireless charging. I think you know where I’m going with this.
You see, Apple launched a wireless implementation of CarPlay in September 2015 along with iOS 9, but it has yet to be widely adopted. Only a few automakers and/or third-parties support it. Hell, standard CarPlay is just now seeing larger adoption amongst automakers and third-parties, but I digress. To use wireless CarPlay, your car must meet Apple’s standard CarPlay requirements in addition to having a Wi-Fi radio 2 and appropriate automaker support. And I don’t think I need to tell you how slow automakers are when it comes to adopting this kind of technology.
With the introduction of Qi charging in the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, I’m hoping we’ll see increased adoption of wireless CarPlay sooner rather than later. Think about it — this setup has the convenience of Bluetooth audio, the huge convenience of CarPlay itself, and the convenience of charging without plugging in a cable. I want to get in the car, rest my iPhone X down on a Qi charging pad (or not) 3, all while having it connect to wireless CarPlay automatically.
Some cars come with Qi chargers built in, so automakers are sort of getting there. Now that iPhone 8 and iPhone X have launched, there’s no better time for Apple to push for rapid adoption.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-05 16:45
Swati Khandelwal for The Hacker News:
Yesterday some users spotted a fake version of the most popular WhatsApp messaging app for Android on the official Google Play Store that has already tricked more than one million users into downloading it.
The app maker added a Unicode character space after the actual WhatsApp Inc. name, which in computer code reads WhatsApp+Inc%C2%A0.
However, this hidden character space at the end of the WhatsApp Inc. would be easily invisible to an average Android user browsing Google Play Store, allowing this dodgy version of the app to masquerade as a product of WhatsApp Inc.
According to Redditors, who first spotted this fake app on Friday, the app was not a chat app; instead, it served Android users with advertisements to download other apps.
What a total shit show. Google removed the app from the Play Store, but not before it was downloaded by one million people. Think about how damaging this could be to the WhatsApp brand. I also wonder how vulnerable this makes Google to a lawsuit.
Google has touted advanced malware scanning as a feature of Android 8.0 Oreo, dubbed Google Play Protect. That’s nice and all, but this protection should be baked in to the Play Store for everyone, not only for operating systems with a .2% market share. Turns out the often-complained about walled garden that is Apple’s App Store has its benefits.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-03 21:13
A collection of Interesting stuff about Apple’s new iPhone X. I’ll be updating this as more is discovered.
11/3 at 5:30pm:
Apple has posted an article with more information on the Super Retina Display. Of most interest, they call out the normalcy of OLED that is color shifting and possible burn-in:
If you look at an OLED display off-angle, you might notice slight shifts in color and hue. This is a characteristic of OLED and is normal behavior. With extended long-term use, OLED displays can also show slight visual changes. This is also expected behavior and can include “image persistence” or “burn-in,” where the display shows a faint remnant of an image even after a new image appears on the screen. This can occur in more extreme cases such as when the same high contrast image is continuously displayed for prolonged periods of time. We’ve engineered the Super Retina display to be the best in the industry in reducing the effects of OLED “burn-in.”
To mitigate this, Apple recommends keeping iPhone X updated, using auto-brightness, setting Auto Lock to a short duration, and avoiding the display of static images at maximum brightness for long periods of time.
These are normal concerns with any OLED panel. From my personal experience, the off-angle color shifting is noticeable, but not terrible. Apple says they engineered the OLED panel in iPhone X to be the best ever, so this is more likely some good “CYA” in the event customers experience light burn in after a lot of use. Hey, it could be worse.
11/3 at 2pm:
The Verge used a camcorder’s night vision mode to capture video of the iPhone X’s dot projector in action. This is very similar to Microsoft Kinect. Apple of course bought PrimeSense, the company behind the original Kinect back in 2013. Today, we witness the fruits of their labor.
Here's how the iPhone X's Face ID works pic.twitter.com/hvcc4qL9dQ— The Verge (@verge) November 3, 2017
iFixit has performed their annual new-iPhone teardown, and it doesn’t disappoint. From reading through the teardown, it’s clear iPhone X is an engineering marvel. Take a look at the L-shaped battery composed of two cells, the stacked logic board, the TrueDepth camera system, and more. Unreal!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-03 18:22
I picked up my iPhone X this morning and am absolutely loving it so far. Face ID hasn’t failed once, and the screen is so good it almost doesn’t look real. I’ll be making plenty of notes over the next few days in preparation for my full review in about a week’s time.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-01 17:54
We’re only halfway through the week and Apple has been throwing nothing but curveballs — fitting since game seven of the World Series is tonight (go Dodgers!). Before we dive into a few of the reviews, here’s what I think could be happening.
Typically, all major tech publications, independent publishers, etc. receive evaluation units for new Apple products about a week before pre-order of the product itself. Then, there’s an publishing embargo put in place until the week of on-sale. Once the embargo lifts, the proverbial floodgates open to a multitude of reviews. 1 This time, Apple has forgone the same old formula and opted to provide varying degrees of hands-on time with iPhone X.
Three distinct types of reviews can be derived from Apple’s strategy.
There has been much speculation (mostly negative) as to why Apple would change their standard formula for this important part of a new device’s launch. Not helped by questionable articles such as this, most theories center around the concept that the reasoning could be to temper expectations for Face ID not working as well as promised. My gut tells me this isn’t exactly right, but not far from the path. Most that have spent time with iPhone X have indicated Face ID works well, while a few have been more vocal about its misses.
There doesn’t seem to be an exact correlation as to which publishers received more or less time with iPhone X. For instance, John Gruber only received his within the last 48 hours, and he is generally regarded as the go-to for Apple coverage. On the other hand, Steven Levy spent a week with iPhone X — quite fitting, he being one of the three early-access reviewers for the original iPhone. Further adding to the confusion, David Pogue, another one of the early-access reviewers for the original iPhone, only received 24 hours. 2
My theory is this: Face ID meets Apple’s expectations, but after the hoopla that resulted from the Apple Watch Series 3 Wi-Fi bug which was largely a non-issue in practice, Apple may have wanted to better control the experience most reviewers would have with iPhone X by restricting their hands-on time. This is where the strategy starts to take shape.
This is a huge launch for Apple and a major change to the iPhone line unseen since its genesis. The message here has to be very controlled and this was their way of doing it. Before review units went out, a lot of people thought Apple would only seed a small amount of devices to reviewers. We now see they’ve done quite the opposite by offering varying degress of access while still retaining a semblance of control. I would be very surprised if this format becomes the new normal for typical product launches. HomePod and iMac Pro are expectedly up next, so we’ll see.
Without further ado, on to the reviews.
At several points, the unlock procedure worked so well in pitch black or at weird angles that I laughed out loud. You get over the amazement pretty quickly, but it feels wild the first few dozen times you do it.
It works so quickly and seamlessly that after a while, you forget it’s unlocking the device — you just raise and swipe. Every once in a while you’ll catch the Face ID animation as it unlocks. Most of the time, though, it just goes. This, coupled with the new “all swipe” interface, makes using the phone and apps feel smooth and interconnected.
This has been my favorite review. Matt took his iPhone X to Disneyland, which is a real workout for any phone. As a result, you’re left with an extremely palatable sense of what it’s capable of.
Filling the phone surface with the screen has another effect: There’s no longer room for the home button, an integral part of the iPhone interface since the start. Its sudden removal is one of those jarring deletions that Apple is famous for, and it requires some relearning. But that’s not necessarily bad: Any upgrade which doesn’t require new behavior is almost by definition not terribly dramatic. Plus, Apple hates buttons. In any case, Apple now requires us to swipe upwards to get to the home screen. That was easy enough. A little trickier is the swipe-and-stop required to get to the carousel of open apps; it took me awhile to get the hang of pressing down on one of the little cards representing an app in order to evoke a minus sign that allowed me to close it.
I knew I’d mastered the gestures when I found myself trying to use them on my iPad. Oops. My finger no longer drifts to the home button, but pathetically swipes upwards, to no avail. And now there’s that awkward moment when I expect the iPad to unlock itself when the camera looks at my face.
Apple is also individually calibrating every iPhone X before it leaves the factory. That’s not something most vendors do. (Some barely sample at all, others only a few per batch.) It’s something Apple’s been calibrating that way since it moved to DCI-P3 cinematic color gamut a couple of years ago.
Combined with Apple’s system-level color management, it means the display won’t look oddly blue or green, and some iPhone X won’t look cooler or warmer than others. They won’t look washed out and dull like Pixel 2 XL or oversaturated like Samsung Galaxy S8. They’ll all, every single one of them, look exactly the way nature and Apple intended — like an iPhone.
Just as I would expect from Apple.
In my early tests, Face ID worked well indoors: sitting at my desk, standing in our video studio, and waiting in line to get coffee. You have to look at it head-on, though: if it’s sitting on your desk you have to pick up the phone and look at it, which is a little annoying if you’re used to just putting your finger on the Touch ID sensor to check a notification.
I took a walk outside our NYC office in bright sunlight, and Face ID definitely had issues recognizing my face consistently while I was moving until I went into shade or brought the phone much closer to my face than usual. I also went to the deli across the street, which has a wide variety of lights inside, including a bunch of overhead florescent strips, and Face ID also got significantly more inconsistent.
As I said earlier, Nilay has been the most vocal about his Face ID issues. I won’t discount his experience completely, because it seems warranted to a degree. However, he also does hold the phone at some odd angles, as seen in the video portion of his review. I doubt direct sunlight is the issue, as nobody else seemed to draw this conclusion. Neil Cybart from Above Avalon even made this video in light of Nilay’s claims:
Here’s Face ID in direct sunlight. No issues. pic.twitter.com/xWUdAheiHi— Neil Cybart (@neilcybart) October 31, 2017
To appreciate technology, you need to have an open mind. Nothing is perfect, but remaining optimistic is the key to not letting these things deter you. Nobody said living on the bleeding edge of tech doesn’t come without hiccups.
I can’t wait to get my iPhone X on Friday and look forward to publishing my own review after spending some quality time with it.
Updated on November 2 at 12:30pm with a slight correction regarding those who received iPhone X for more than 24 hours.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-28 17:32
Everything I write and publish to my site is directly from my iPad Pro 10.5-inch, made possible by iOS 11 and some amazing apps. When I launched Gaddgict, I didn’t plan on working this way, but it has become so fun and compelling that I don’t even consider using my MacBook Pro or anything else to accomplish these tasks. In fact, the only thing I use my MacBook Pro for is the site’s development, since I can make changes safely in my test environment before publishing to the production server.
I’ll be writing mostly about the Editorial app since that’s where all my writing and publishing takes place. I’ll also call out a few other apps I use as part of my workflow. I felt compelled to share this process since the interest in iOS automation seems to be on the rise. I hope you’ll find my perspective and approach useful.
The CMS Gaddgict runs on is called HTMLy. It’s a simple, yet powerful flat-file system, and I’ve been able to easily tweak it to suit my needs since Gaddgict launched earlier this year. Let me preface the iPad setup by level-setting a couple things about how HTMLy works. This will help to better illustrate how I implemented certain tasks in Editorial.
<!-- t How I write and publish Gaddgict with iPad Pro and Editorial t-->
<!-- tag iPad Pro,Editorial,iOS Automation tag-->
Here’s an overview of my setup. Note: apps listed are linked with my iTunes affiliate ID, so if you decide to purchase one of these via a link below, you’ll be helping me out a little bit!
I’ll direct your attention to my iPad Pro 10.5-inch review for my full thoughts on this wonderful device. However, I’d like to take a minute to talk about the Smart Keyboard here.
I bought the Smart Keyboard with the iPad not knowing exactly if I would like it. Now that I have been typing on it for months, I was and am still shocked by how good it is. The key travel is perfect, 1 the material has a great feel and is easily maintainable, the smart connector integration is genius, it doubles as a stand for watching video, the list goes on.
My only gripe with the Smart Keyboard is its lack of a forward delete key combo, which is essential for writing. This was initially a problem until I created a workflow in Editorial to accomplish this as you’ll see below.
There are quite a few really great writing apps for iOS. There’s Ulysses, Bear Notes, Byword, and more. For me, Editorial takes the cake thanks to its built-in workflow system that allows for custom Python scripting. It’s made by the developer of the highly-acclaimed Pythonista app, Ole Zorn.
Editorial has all the usual features you’d expect in a writing app like Markdown, exporting, syntax highlighting, etc. Here are a few other features that are standouts for me:
Workflows are where the real power of Editorial comes into play. Creating your own workflows is made easy by the plethora of pre-constructed actions you can build custom flows with, some of which offer impressive integration with iOS. To name a few:
Editorial has fantastic documentation on how to use the pre-constructed actions and advanced Python modules.
Editorial also has a Workflow Directory where you can share workflows you have created and download ones created by others. There are quite a number of awesome workflows on there. In fact, I’ll be sharing template versions of the ones I wrote below.
What follows are the main workflows I built to write and publish Gaddgict.
As mentioned above, the Smart Keyboard itself does not have a way to perform a forward delete. However, I was able to write a workflow in Editorial and bind it to a key combination to mimic a forward delete like so:
That’s it! I binded the combo to Control + \, mimicking the normal key spacing for forward delete on a Mac (Fn + Del). I thought Editorial would lag a little bit if I spammed the key combo repeatedly, but it doesn’t at all. It functions exactly like a forward delete should (you can even hold the key combo down to for continuous delete).
While a majority of my posts tend to not have images, when I feel inclined to include any, this workflow will securely upload them to my server over SFTP and insert the appropriate HTML into my current document. It goes a little something like this:
Inserts the following into the document:
<figure> <img src="[Clipboard]" alt="[imgALT]" title="[imgALT]"> <figcaption>[imgALT]</figcaption> </figure>
I love this workflow because it allows me to see a live preview of the images within my post. If SFTP isn’t your thing, you can also adapt this script to use regular (insecure) FTP via the Python ftplib module. 3
Here’s an example of my workflow:
You can also create custom templates, which are really workflows, to further automate things. For instance, my original ‘New Post Template’ prompted me separately for things like the post title, post type, and the meta description. This was great, but then I delved into Editorial’s awesome Custom UI builder.
Now when I’m creating a new article, I’m presented with a simple form to fill in the basics and populate the meat and potatoes of the post itself.
Here’s how it works:
When I’m done writing, this is the main workflow that publishes a new post to the blog and a bit more. Although there are many more individual steps than this, here is an abridged version of what this script does:
<! --t (.*) t-->
Get this workflow. Note: you’ll have to tweak this, of course. I’m not including the sub-workflow that clears my site cache (step 4 above), since it just connects to my server and runs a command over SSH. Same goes for the Update Post workflow below.
Here’s the workflow in action:
Similar to the Publish workflow above, this one is for updating an existing post already on the site. It goes a little something like this:
I won’t bore you with a video for this one, since it’s largely the same as the Publish workflow.
When using images in my posts, I’m typically dealing with quick cropping and basic manipulation. Affinity Photo does this with ease and definitely offers the closest-to-Photoshop-like experience on iPad than any other app. On occasion, I’ve used it to create more detailed images for feature posts like ‘Home Smart Home’ or my Amazon Echo Show Review, and it has just been a joy to use. There’s an initial learning curve when it comes to the UI, but nothing a little exploration can’t solve.
Workflow is a small, yet convenient part of my … well … workflow. Here are the actions I have setup:
Calls the ‘New Article Template’ workflow in Editorial. In other words, I can jump into writing a new article from anywhere by triggering this action from the Workflow widget in the iOS Today view.
Calls my ‘New Qlink’ workflow in Editorial. From there, I can quickly share a link that is displayed at the top of the index page under the “Quick Links” tab.
In order to clear my site’s server-side cache, I can trigger this workflow to run the server script (over SSH) that does just that. In fact, this is the same server script Editorial runs after a new post is uploaded. The real cool part about this one is triggering it from my Apple Watch. I can’t help but geek out every time I clear my site’s cache from my wrist.
Made by popular developer Panic, I use Transmit and Prompt for SFTP and SSH respectively. They have similar features as other apps, but offer best-in-class UI and UX on iPad in my opinion. Not to mention their Panic Sync feature is great, which keeps server and login info up-to-date between my iPad and iPhone.
My entire setup took a decent amount of time to put together (and I’m still refining it). Would it have been easier to use a Mac or something more off-the-shelf? Possibly, but it was fun as hell to build all this. It really showcases the power of iPad Pro and paints the picture of a truly capable machine versus a media consumption device.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions on Editorial, the workflows, or anything else.
If I can do all this for my site, just imagine how easy non-technical tasks will become or have already become. Apple’s vision of the iPad as the new standard computing device for the average user is closer than ever.
Dare I say even better than key travel on MacBook Pro? Shots fired, I know. ↩︎
I never had written anything in Python before using Editorial, but the learning curve is pretty small if you’ve written in any other languages. It’s fun, yet powerful. ↩︎
I wouldn’t recommend it. Security and privacy are important. ↩︎
I’m using Python’s Paramiko module for SSH transfers. ↩︎
This is a recent addition, as Tweetbot barely gained iOS share sheet functionality. ↩︎
It’s a shame you can’t use the Facebook share extension to post to a page (timeline only), similar to how I do it with Tweetbot. ↩︎
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-28 00:34
So, Best Buy is selling all iPhone X models $100 above retail if you buy the phone outright (not on a payment plan). Dumb, right? Wait until you read their “reason” for doing so.
Joe Rossignol for MacRumors:
In a statement issued to MacRumors, Best Buy said its prices reflect a customer’s ability to “get a phone the way they want.”
“Our prices reflect the fact that no matter a customer’s desired plan or carrier, or whether a customer is on a business or personal plan, they are able to get a phone the way they want at Best Buy. Our customers have told us they want this flexibility and sometimes that has a cost,” a Best Buy spokesperson told MacRumors.
It’s almost like they tried to write a purposely awful statement.
I mean flexibility? This is the best they could come up with — a half-baked explanation for what is plain and simple price gouging? They are supposedly price matching it down to the MSRP upon request, which makes the optics of this even worse.
Also, they say customers “want this flexibility” meaning what, exactly? Surely not the $100 increase, because they continue with “sometimes that has a cost” as if they are sticking it to them. Look, Best Buy can sell it for whatever they want, but at least don’t bullshit everyone.
Side note: I find it hilarious that a company named Best Buy literally has the worst buy for iPhone X amongst retailers.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-27 01:20
I waited to comment on this article by Alex Webb and Sam Kim from Bloomberg wherein they report on Apple’s supposed production issues with iPhone X because I figured John Gruber would say it best (he did).
The main charge in the original article:
As of early fall, it was clearer than ever that production problems meant Apple Inc. wouldn’t have enough iPhone Xs in time for the holidays. The challenge was how to make the sophisticated phone — with advanced features such as facial recognition — in large enough numbers.
As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation.
Apple refutes it outright, and Gruber’s take on what that means:
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said “Bloomberg’s claim that it reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication. The quality and accuracy of Face ID haven’t changed; it continues to be one in a million probability of a random person unlocking your iPhone with Face ID.”
It is extraordinary for Apple to issue a blanket “this is completely false” statement on any news story. Apple, as policy, no-comments every news story, even when they know it’s bullshit. So either this story is particularly strong bullshit, or Apple is lying, on the record, under one of their own real names (as opposed to the anonymous “an Apple spokesperson” attribution).
Gruber on perceptions of biometric authentication:
People are naturally skeptical about biometric ID systems. They were skeptical about Touch ID when it was still only rumored, just like they’re skeptical now about Face ID. Today, though, Touch ID is both trusted and familiar. So rumors claiming that Apple really wanted to get Touch ID into iPhone X but had to settle for Face ID play into both the skepticism of the new and the comfort of the familiar. FUD is one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Check out John’s whole post. He really dives in, speaking to Bloomberg’s track record (and Ming-Chi Kuo’s), plus insights derived from conversations he’s had with actual Apple engineers.
Here’s my take: everyone loves a good controversy, and in the tech world, Apple controversies get the most clicks (whether they are real or manufactured). Some people love to see Apple fail, or even just the perception of Apple failing is enough. Why? I think I have a decent answer.
From where I stand, the public perception of Apple may be that they are some kind of infallible entity. However, until Liam takes over, Apple is still run by humans, and humans are anything but infallible. In other words, writing a FUD article on Apple is especially easy. Should anyone be writing an article like this? I don’t see the constructive point, regardless of the company in which its about. I wouldn’t wish it on Samsung, Google, et al. Rumors are one thing, but this is straight-up FUD.
I have faith in Face ID and think it will be transformational. Apple would have nixed it long ago if they didn’t strongly believe in it.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-24 22:03
My Dad and I talk iPhone X launch expectations, our final color choices, MacBook keyboard problems, the direction of the MacBook, and more.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-24 20:12
iPhone X will be available in more than 55 countries and territories, and in Apple Stores beginning Friday, November 3 at 8:00 a.m. local time. Stores will have iPhone X available for walk-in customers, who are encouraged to arrive early.
Emphasis mine. Apple always has new versions of iPhone available for walk-in customers on launch day, but this is going to be a bloodbath.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-23 22:40
Christina Farr for CNBC:
John Hancock, one of the largest life insurance providers, is partnering with Apple to offer all of its new and existing members of its Vitality program a steeply discounted Apple Watch.
The program offers perks and rewards to people who live healthy lifestyles. Any consumer who signs up for the program is eligible to get the device for $25.
As long as Vitality members exercise regularly for two years, they will be allowed to keep the device for free. If they don’t, they’ll have to pay it off in installments. The Series 3 costs upwards of $299.
It’s really $25 plus tax, so you’re looking at roughly $50 — $70. Still not a bad deal.
According to the same page, the way you pay it off is by earning 500 fitness-related Vitality Points per month over two years (12,000 total points). These points are applied towards the cost of the Watch, and you therefore avoid any additional charges. I’m not sure how the points system works in actuality, so it’s not exactly clear how attainable this is.
That said, they have had success with the pilot version of the program as Christina discusses:
John Hancock, which is owned by Manulife, first started offering Apple Watches to a limited set of members — people who purchased life insurance policies over $2 million — several years ago.
After logging a 20 percent increase in activity under the program, it decided to extend it to all U.S. members
About half of the people who received the device achieved their monthly goals and did not pay for the device, John Hancock senior vice president Brooks Tingle told CNBC.
I’m surprised the amount of people that hit their goals is so high. I would expect that to dip now that all their customers are eligible for this promotion. Some may even treat it as a deferred lease and just pay it off at the end.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-23 04:20
Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch:
Essential has an offer that’s honestly very hard to refuse: The price of the Essential Phone (PH-1, going by technical model number), is now $200 cheaper, so $499 off-contract and unlocked.
Lest Essential’s earliest customers feel slighted, it has a deal for early buyers, too – they’ll receive a $200 ‘friends and family’ credit they can use to further discount (valid through December 15, 2017) a device for a loved one (or another for themselves, if they maybe also want the just-released white Essential Phone, for instance), or to buy the 360-camera attachment. Customers will be able to sign up to redeem the $200 credit on the Essential page, using their phone’s IMEI and serial numbers, along with the email address they used to purchase.
$499 (or even $599) should have been its price to begin with. Essential doesn’t have the clout to expect a large number of purchases on a $699 device, but hey, good on them for trying. As Darrell says in the article, $499 makes Essential Phone a hell of a deal if you’re in the market for a barebones Android device. 1
Make sure you’re OK with the somewhat lacking camera quality as well. ↩︎
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-20 17:21
Following similar suit as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple will let existing iPhone Upgrade Program members obtain pre-approval for their iPhone X purchase early.
From Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program site:
Get a head start on your upgrade to iPhone X on 10.23. Use the Apple Store app on your iPhone to get ready for pre-order so you can speed through checkout on 10.27.
According to the page, it also appears those upgrading to iPhone X will be able to take advantage of the new Trade-in Kit process:
If you’re upgrading online or with the Apple Store app, you can have your new iPhone delivered right to your door for free. Once it ships, we’ll send you a Trade-in Kit so you can send your current iPhone back to Apple. You’ll also have the option to pick up your new iPhone in a store — often the same day. When you come to the store, remember to bring your current iPhone with you to trade in.
Seems like Apple sure has learned their lesson from last year. Hiccups aside, I really like the program, having been part of it since its genesis. If you must have the latest iPhone every year, this is the way to go. Not to mention it also comes with the convenience and safety of AppleCare+.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-20 04:28
Juli Clover for MacRumors:
MacRumors reader Krar decided to email Apple CEO Tim Cook to get an update on the Mac mini and he received a response. Cook said it was “not time to share any details,” but he confirmed that the Mac mini will be an important part of the company’s product lineup in the future.
The Mac mini will probably live on for a while longer, but one has to wonder just how much longer. It is becoming more of a niche product with every passing day.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-18 18:18
Quite a few folks chimed in on a growing issue with the MacBook and MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard yesterday. Already polarizing in terms of key travel and feel, there seems to be underlying issues with the technology or implementation on a large scale.
[…] There were no mysteriously faulty innerworkings. It was the spacebar. It was broken. And not even physically broken — it still moved and acted normally. But every time I pressed it once, it spaced twice.
“Maybe it’s a piece of dust,” the Genius had offered. The previous times I’d been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem — a misbehaving keyboard — Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn’t believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. […]
As outlined in the most recent episode of Connected, the keyboard on my Late 2016, 13-inch TouchBar-equipped MacBook Pro is not doing well.
A couple of weeks ago, its i key started feeling a little sticky. This keyboard does not boast a large amount of travel, but this key was barely moving at all when pressed.
One of the tiny arms that the key cap clips onto is broken. My nearly $2,000 laptop that I bought less than a year ago is now missing a key, as I shared with our Connected audience this weekend before using an iBook G3 for the rest of the sho
I fully understand this because I am experiencing nearly the same thing on my 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro. For the past few weeks, the ‘Q’ key has become what can only be described as ‘stuck’. That is to say that half the time I press it, there’s a noticeable snag before the key actually depresses accompanied by a garish CLACK sound as the key travels downward. I have carefully removed the key and sprayed the hell out of the switch a couple times to no avail. Upon close inspection, there doesn’t seem to be any debris, so the whole situation is maddening. I have been putting off a trip to the Apple Store, but I will unfortunately have to take it in.
I don’t mind the actual shallow key travel too much, but I prefer the feel of the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard over it.
Marco Arment also chimed in with the following on Twitter:
That keyboard has no place in pro laptops, and Apple needs to deeply reconsider the process that led to it being brought to the whole line.— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) October 17, 2017
Apple needs to do two things, in my opinion:
The MacBook line has largely been viewed as neglected over the past couple years, so this really adds insult to injury. If Apple does nothing, they’re just begging for a class action lawsuit.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-18 05:13
Like Google and the Pixel 2. I guess that’s the theme for today. ↩︎
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-17 22:33
Google’s second-generation Pixel impresses most reviewers, even if the screen quality is less than perfect. Here’s a couple reviews that caught my eye.
I was in New Orleans for the weekend, and I took pictures of drunk people in bars, jazz bands, drunk people outdoors, and gators. All, of course, to put the Pixel 2 through its paces (which is why I will be expensing all my bar tabs, please and thank you). After about a week of using both models, the Pixel 2 and the larger Pixel 2 XL, but mostly the XL, I can safely say the Pixel 2 is the Android phone to buy. Not because it has any particular otherworldly feature: the camera is fantastic, though not a full class above the Samsung Note 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus. As with last year, the Pixel 2 is just the phone that gets the most things right. It has the best, smartest, most reliable software. It’s fast. It’s waterproof. It’s interestingly and attractively designed. OK, fine, it doesn’t have a headphone jack. That sucks. But the Pixel 2’s still the phone I recommend.
The impressive picture quality of the Pixel 2’s camera is a recurring theme amongst reviewers. Even though iPhone has typically been regarded as the industry benchmark, I gotta give it up for Google here for iterating so quickly on the Pixel’s original camera.
The screen, especially on the 2 XL, has been polarizing. Google opted to tune the display to sRGB (the Galaxy S8, by comparison, offers four gamut options), so it looks a little more like the iPhone’s screen. But more than that, on the 2 XL the colors look muted in a way that many Android users I’ve shown it to found distasteful (even with the “vivid colors” setting turned on). I think many Android phones, especially from Samsung, are so vivid as to be phantasmagoric, so Google’s choice was to make this more “naturalistic.”
Part of the issue, Google says, is that Oreo is the first version of Android to have proper color space control. So until now, Android developers really didn’t have a way to control precisely how their colors would look on screens. The Pixel 2 is part of an effort to fix that, but even so, the more “naturalistic” color tuning on the Pixel 2 XL (and, to a lesser extent, the smaller Pixel 2) just looks a little off. The problem gets much worse when you look at the screen from angles, the color swings simply because that’s what pOLED does.
OLED itself isn’t perfect, but it’s damn nice, even if most people don’t like the pentile pixel arrangement typically found in these screens. iPhone X is confirmed to have such an arrangement, but Apple also said its the first OLED panel “worthy of iPhone”, so it will be interesting to see how it differs from Samsung’s normal offerings. pOLED, what LG makes and is in the Pixel 2, is even further behind and will require more iteration to catch up.
In my opinion, the screen is the most important part of a phone, especially in an age where the phone is essentially becoming the screen. For it to be anything less than stellar is unfortunate.