eXtensions - Saturday 21 September 2019
Cassandra - Weekend Review: iFixit iPhone Teardown; iPhones Seeing Good Reviews; Frustrating iOS Update
By Graham K. Rogers
Although software features strongly in all smartphones, iFixit was pleased that Apple had been working on hardware too. With regard to the cameras, while the report outlines the hardware, there was a link to Halide that has an analysis of the way the cameras work: they were seriously impressed; but in a Tweet later it was found that RAW is apparently not available for the Wide Angle camera.
In the iFixit teardown, a couple of chips could not be fully identified so these may be for feature updates, such as ultra-wideband. I also note that there seem to be Intel wireless chips but nothing from Qualcomm. The teardown also confirms one disappointment for me: Lightning and not USB-C. And battery: bigger battery.
I started with the Photos app as I knew changes were expected. I had been asking for Sharpen and White Balance tools for several years and these are now available, but the editing controls are completely changed. Instead of the familiar quick-adjust sliders, there are separate tools at the side depending on which editing mode (Crop, Filters, Adjust) is selected. To my great disappointment, the controls for B&W are no longer there. This can be done by turning Saturation down to zero, and with the three filters, but the former controls that adjusted the greys depending on RGB levels are gone.
Photos in iOS 13 on iPhone X
Like photos, Health breaks the rule, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The previous interface allowed the user to see data at a glance. It was color-coded and grouped to make it easy to view. Now there are entries from several time periods (one I have goes back to August), they are all white with colored text, and the display logic is not clear to me (albeit alphabetical). For example, BMI used to be next to weight and this is no longer the case. I do not need height displayed in the Summary which replaces the Day view as this does not change on a day to day basis. Who is guiding Apple on these unnecessary changes?
I also updated the Apple Watch app, which asked me on Saturday morning, when I was updating iPhone apps, to enter a password for the iTunes account. A keyboard option appeared and I entered the details on the iPhone. I later saw that the ECG function was seeing praise in India (Patently Apple) so had a look in case the Thai medical profession had arrived in the 21st century. All I saw was a warning that this is not intended for people under 22. I am flattered, but passed that milestone several years back. With the last update users here were at least told that the feature was not available in the area (which makes sense), but the Age warning tells anyone older than 22 precisely nothing.
Although iOS 13 is available this week, the version for the iPad, known as iPadOS are said not to be arriving until 30 September. There is a fair chance that this will actually be version 13.1 as this beta is already in testers' hands. There are some rumors that an early version of iOS 13.1 will be pushed out next Tuesday.
Thus far, 13.0 has not been a satisfactory update for me.
There were further comments on Seeking Alpha concerning the surprising Goldman Sachs advice for Apple that dropped the share price prediction after months of maintaining a higher recommendation. This came immediately after an event that announced several new items, including iPhones and by all accounts sales are good. Goldman Sachs? Meh.
Later in the week there was a sort of consensus online that preorders were actually better than last year.
iPhone 11 Pro - Image courtesy of Apple
Later I also saw an item by Sebastian de With (who had earlier produced a sterling article on the use of RAW) on the Halide Blog, concerning the new cameras and what users can expect. By Wednesday afternoon here, Apple had put together a list of a dozen early reviews with links to the original articles. Camera seem to be rated highly and the most popular device is the iPhone 11 Pro with 256GB. Later China's "JD.com reported a 480% increase in iPhone 11 preorders over last year" and preorders were also up in Taiwan (Patently Apple)
Hidden away in the specifications of the iPhone 11 Pro is information about the wireless connectivity, including 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 with 2x2 MIMO. I knew that 802.11ax was coming but not that it would be in the iPhones. My devices (and router) currently use 802.11ac. The other interesting part of the specifications is the use of WiFi 6: a term to help simplify users understanding of the standard. People like me who work with engineers know about the 802.11 IEEE wifi standards that have been around for years, with occasional changes to the information as we have gone from 802.11a up through 802.11n and 802.11ac. Ben Lovejoy on 9to5Mac writes that the Wi-Fi Alliance last year recognized the confusion with the technical standards and came up with the simpler,
Along with the new Ultra Wideband chip that is also in the iPhone 11 Pro, I will be able to tease my students about their knowledge of the new standards.
I had been using USB-C for a couple of years on the notebook Macs I have had, and when the iPad Pro also switched to this connector, I was keen to buy one especially when it was clear I could download RAW images straight from the camera. I use the USB-C to micro-USB cables from Belkin which I found online (Amazon and Lazada) but also - after a long wait - finally saw for sale in the Siam Paragon Store a couple of weeks back.
I had been frustrated with the lackadaisical approach to these cables from retail stores here who sell computers with the USB-C ports, and accessories (like external hard disks) that use micro-USB, but not these useful cables. With these and the adapters for video projectors, I can avoid an overuse of docks and adapters. As I need video projectors for teaching I have had adapters for all my Macs for years, so this was nothing specifically to do with USB-C.
A colleague came in on Monday afternoon and asked to borrow my Lightning to VGA adapter as she wanted to use her iPad in the classroom: something I had long suggested. She is fed up with the white boards we use as they are reflective and students at the back complain about this, particularly if she uses green (apparently most reflective with this medium). She teaches mathematics (really smart). I first met her when she was about 15 and had just been awarded a government scholarship. In the USA she went to high school, took a Bachelor's degree then (all in the plan) studied for a PhD (imaging - like MRI).
She wanted to use the iPad to write equations and was delighted with the results. Easy to manage with the Apple Pencil, the students could see her calculations easily on the projector screen and it was a win-win. When she returned the adapter, which I needed for Wednesday - presentations with the iPhone and Apple Watch as controller - she promised that the adapter is a priority for her as she will certainly adapt her teaching and use this regularly.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
For further information, e-mail to
Back to Home Page