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Austin Mann on the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Cameras

Source: austinmann.com

Source: austinmann.com

Every year I look forward to Austin Mann taking the latest iPhones through their paces somewhere in the world. This year, Mann is on tour with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in China where he went out into the countryside to capture some stunning portraits and landscapes.

Mann’s review covers the new Ultra Wide lens, Night Mode, Smart HDR improvements, and ability to capture outside the frame, along with wishes for additional improvements. Mann’s take on Night Mode:

As long as I can remember, the top question I’ve received from iPhone photographers, beginners and pros alike, is How can I shoot better pictures in low light? This year’s addition of Night mode is the answer to the question. It’s easy to use, crazy powerful, and because it’s automatic it will completely change how everyone shoots on their iPhone.

Mann confirms what seemed to be the case from the photos that Apple showed off last week at its event in Cupertino – Apple has implemented Night Mode in a way that doesn’t try to turn night into day:

One thing I love about Apple’s approach to Night mode is the strategic balance of solving a technical problem while also caring deeply about artistic expression. When you look at the image above, it’s clear their team didn’t take the let’s-make-night-look-like-day approach, as some of their competitors have. Instead, it feels more like an embrace of what it actually is (night) while asking, “How do we capture the feel of this scene in a beautiful way?”

How Apple accomplishes Night Mode is interesting. As Mann explains:

From what I understand, the way Night mode actually works is the camera captures a bunch of short exposures and slightly longer exposures, checks them for sharpness, throws out the bad ones and blends the good ones. On a traditional dSLR/mirrorless camera, a 5 second exposure is one single, continuous recording of the light throughout the duration of the shutter so any movement (of subject or camera) is recorded.

But with iPhone 11 Pro the rules are different… it’s not capturing one single continuous frame but blending a whole bunch of shots with variable lengths (some shorter exposures to freeze motion and longer shots to expose the shadows.) This means the subject can actually move during your exposure but still remain sharp.

If you’ve been wondering about the new Ultra Wide camera on the new iPhones or the other new features of the camera app, be sure to check out Austin Mann’s full review for great technical and artistic insights about what Apple has accomplished with its new cameras as well as some absolutely fantastic examples of what they can do.

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Techmeme Ride Home, iPhone Event Debrief with John Voorhees of MacStories

On today’s weekend interview episode of Techmeme Ride Home, I was interviewed by Brian McCullough all about this week’s Apple event. We discussed the backlash against Apple events, how the company’s keynotes are evolving into something more than a showcase for iPhones, and then dove into all the new hardware and services announced.

As always, it was a pleasure to dig into the details as well as the big-picture implications of the week’s news with McCullough. You can find the episode on Apple Podcasts.

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The Potential of the iPhone 11’s Ultra Wideband U1 Chip

A feature of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro that didn’t get stage time this week was Apple’s new U1 chip, which adopts the relatively new Ultra Wideband wireless technology. The UWB Alliance, an industry trade group, describes the technology as follows:

UWB is a unique radio technology that can use extremely low energy levels for short-range, high-bandwidth communications over a large portion of the radio spectrum. Devices powered by a coin cell can operate for a period of years without recharge or replacement. UWB technology enables a broad range of applications, from real-time locating and tracking, to sensing and radar, to secure wireless access, and short message communication. The flexibility, precision and low-power characteristics of UWB give it a unique set of capabilities unlike any other wireless technology.

For now, all Apple has said is that the U1 chip will permit users to point an iPhone 11 at another iPhone 11 and “and AirDrop will prioritize that device so you can share files faster.” However, the same iPhone 11 Pro preview page also notes that the U1 is “going to lead to amazing new capabilities.” In light of recent rumors that Apple is developing a hardware tag for tracking your belongings, it’s not hard to imagine at least one application that the company probably has in mind. However, Tile-like item tracking is just the tip of the iceberg.

Over on Six Colors, Jason Snell has dug deeper into UWB technology. Snell spoke to Mickael Viot, the VP of marketing at UWB chipmaker Decawave, to better understand other use cases for UWB:

But the possible applications of UWB go way beyond AirDrop and tracking tags. Decawave’s Viot says potential applications include smart home tech, augmented reality, mobile payments, the aforementioned keyless car entry, and even indoor navigation. (And it’s not a power hog, either—Viot says that Decawave’s latest UWB chip uses one-third of the power of a Bluetooth LE chip when in beacon mode, as a tracking tile would be.)

It’s interesting to consider what UWB could enable, especially inside the home. Apple will expand the automation capabilities of NFC tags, which are useful for home automation setups, in iOS and iPadOS 13.1. However, NFC tags still need to be scanned to trigger actions. UWB has the potential to go well beyond NFC by using spatial awareness and presence to expand how we interact and automate all sorts of smart devices.

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New HomePod Details Emerge

The HomePod was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s Apple keynote. However, the company has quietly updated the HomePod’s product page with new details, as spotted by Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac.

According to Mayo,

Firstly, the radio stations feature is launching on HomePod on September 30. However, the previously-announced multi-user support and the music handoff features are not coming in September. Apple simply says ‘later this fall’. They also teased a new white noise mode that they hadn’t talked about before…

The new Ambient Sounds feature will allow users to play sounds including “ocean waves, forest birds, rainstorms, and more.”

Although Apple doesn’t say so, the September 30th timing for radio station support suggests that the feature is dependent on the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.1, which is due for release that same day. The company’s OS release schedule is far more complicated this year than in the recent past. For those interested in all the product launch and OS update release dates, we’ve collected a complete list of all dates on MacStories.

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Connected, Episode 259: The Rickies (Fall 2019)

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Myke, Federico and Stephen complete their annual tradition of making predictions before Apple’s iPhone event, this time with a new name: The Rickies.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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01:32:28

Connected, Episode 259

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Adapt, Episode 8: New iPad Pro Wishcasting & Podcast Transcription

On this week’s episode of Adapt:

Federico and Ryan discuss rumored forthcoming iPad Pro models, debating what might compel them to buy new iPads. Afterwards, Federico shares his journey trying a couple different apps and services to make a good transcript of the last episode of the show.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here), and don’t forget to send us questions using #AskAdapt and by tagging our Twitter account.

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Adapt, Episode 8

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Connected, Episode 258: Technically iOS 13

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Federico’s back just in time for Apple to release the first beta of iOS 13.1 He, Stephen and Myke get into what this could mean for Apple’s upcoming busy season before discussing the changes Apple has made to its Siri grading program.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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Connected, Episode 258

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Apple Announces New Initiative to Support Device Repair Providers

Following news earlier this summer that Apple was partnering with Best Buy for expanded repair service, today the company has announced another initiative to make device repairs more accessible:

“To better meet our customers’ needs, we’re making it easier for independent providers across the US to tap into the same resources as our Apple Authorized Service Provider network,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right. We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested.”

Independent repair providers can join Apple’s new program at no cost, provided they have an Apple-certified technician on staff. Joining provides a variety of benefits:

Apple will provide more independent repair businesses — large or small — with the same genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics as its Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs). The program is launching in the US with plans to expand to other countries.

Apple’s moves this summer to make authorized repairs more accessible from outside an Apple Store reflect the company’s struggles to keep up with accelerated repair demand from a growing user base. While repairs will likely always be a core element of Apple Stores, by pushing more people to third-party providers, Apple can perhaps make its retail locations less crowded and thus more pleasant to visit moving forward.

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Disney+ Will Launch with iOS and tvOS Apps and Integration with TV App

Disney announced today which platforms its Disney+ streaming service would be available on at launch, and unsurprisingly iOS and tvOS are on the list. One tidbit that’s particularly noteworthy, however, comes from Chris Welch’s report for The Verge:

Disney also plans to integrate its content with the Apple TV app so that movies, originals, and shows will appear there among other suggested things to watch.

Integration with the TV app means Disney+ subscribers will be able to add the service’s content to their Up Next queue inside TV, in addition to seeing recommendations for movies and shows like Welch mentions. This is a significant piece of news for people like myself who rely on the TV app for much of their TV viewing. Also noteworthy is that Disney+ will support Apple’s In-App Purchase system for subscriptions, so you can subscribe directly through Apple rather than needing to set up a separate Disney account.

This is a big win for Apple’s TV ambitions, as Disney+ is expected to quickly grow into one of the most popular streaming services on the market. Netflix, the current streaming king, doesn’t integrate at all with Apple’s TV app, and recently it even abandoned Apple’s In-App Purchase system for subscriptions. If Disney had followed in Netflix’s footsteps, Apple’s hopes of the TV app gaining widespread adoption would have been slim to none.

The only outstanding question concerns whether Disney+ will become a full-on channel inside the TV app, or if it will rely on the legacy integration that apps like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video currently utilize. Welch writes:

A Disney spokesperson told The Verge that Disney has nothing to announce regarding “channel” marketplaces like Apple TV Channels or Amazon Prime Channels. I wouldn’t bet on Disney giving Apple (or anyone) extra control over its hugely important service; allowing Disney+ to be streamed entirely within the Apple TV app would be a nice convenience for the customers who want it, but I don’t see it happening.

My take is that Disney+ becoming a channel actually makes a lot of sense for the company. Since it’s already going to integrate with TV, and use In-App Purchases, there’s little to no “extra control” Disney would be handing Apple if Disney+ became a channel. All the control is already conceded. The only advantage of forcing people to jump from the TV app into the Disney+ app would be that, when a movie or show finishes playing, users would find themselves in Disney’s app rather than Apple’s. But that’s a small bit of ground to give up considering all the control Disney’s already forfeited.

If Disney+ becomes a channel, it will make for a better user experience for everyone, including parents who can download content offline for their kids via the TV app. Plus, if Disney only supports TV’s legacy integration, that will mean it’s only available in Apple’s TV app on Apple devices; third-party streaming sticks and TV sets that include the TV app wouldn’t offer Disney+ content at all, which again would make for a worse experience.

I expect that Disney’s hesitation to announce channels support is only temporary. Either the company is still negotiating its exact deal with Apple, or an announcement is being held back for Apple’s iPhone event in September. The latter scenario seems likely: Disney+ garnering stage time at the biggest marketing event of the year for one of the world’s biggest companies is a win for both Apple and Disney.

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