This week's sponsor

Focus

The Best Pomodoro App for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac


Posts in Linked

How Apple Made Its New Apple Watch Faces

Apple has a variety of new watch faces built into watchOS 5. A couple are exclusive to the new Series 4 Watch, but older models will still have access to faces like Fire and Water, Vapor, and Liquid Metal. What you may not know about these faces is that they were all created using practical effects. Josh Rubin at Cool Hunting writes:

Talking to Alan Dye, Vice President of User Interface Design at Apple, about this particular project he shared that “it’s more of a story about the design team. We could have done this digitally, but we shot this all in a studio. It’s so indicative of how the design team works—bringing our best and varied talents together to create these faces.” Surely it would have been cheaper to just render fire, water, liquid metal and vapor, but this is what makes Apple special—putting in the time and effort to do something right and real might only be noticed directly by a few, but is certainly felt by all.

To see this watch face project in action, check out the behind-the-scenes video below.

Permalink

Austin Mann’s Review of the iPhone XS Cameras

In addition to the early slate of iPhone reviews from the press, it's become tradition in recent years for each iPhone to be graded as a camera by professional photographer Austin Mann. I especially enjoyed Mann's review this year of the iPhone XS camera system. He writes:

Most of the time my expectations for camera upgrades on “S” years aren’t so high, but after shooting with the iPhone XS for a week, I can confidently say it’s a huge camera upgrade. There’s a lot of little improvements, but Smart HDR definitely takes the cake. This is a feature and technology that improves virtually everything you capture with your iPhone camera. I think you’ll be really thrilled when you experience the results yourself.

As I shared in last week's issue of MacStories Weekly for Club MacStories, the iPhone XS and XR announcements caught me by surprise in that I expected there to be more change in the devices compared to last year's iPhone X. I've ordered a XS Max, but the primary reason for my upgrade was the additional screen real estate compared to my X; bigger display aside, September's keynote didn't provide much of a compelling reason for me to purchase a new phone this year. However, Mann's review and that of John Gruber have helped provide much-needed additional detail on the camera upgrades in the XS, which sound impressively significant.

One of the standout lines in Mann's review for me comes near the beginning, where he says, "iPhone XS captures what your eyes see." It's hard to find higher praise than that.

Permalink

The iPhone XS’ Camera and Neural Engine

Apple describes the XS as sporting “dual 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras”. This will be obvious to most of you, but in case it’s not, they’re not just dual rear-facing lenses, they’re dual rear-facing cameras. The wide-angle and telephoto lenses each have their own sensors. As a user you don’t have to know this, and should never notice it. The iPhone XS telephoto camera is the same as in the iPhone X — same lens, same sensor.

But the iPhone XS wide-angle camera has a new lens, which I believe to be superior to last year’s, and an amazing new sensor which is remarkably better than last year’s. And last year’s was very good.

Anytime an iPhone review gets too technical about camera details and photography lexicon, I tend to gloss over it and move on. I'm not a camera expert and I usually don't care about the nitty-gritty. But John Gruber's analysis of the iPhone XS' camera stack, A12 SoC, and seemingly unadvertised improved sensor is one of the most interesting camera-focused iPhone reviews I've read in years. I don't want to spoil it – move past the photos at the beginning and keep reading.

Permalink


An Oral History of Apple’s Former Headquarters

Steven Levy spent more than a year talking to past and present Apple executives and employees about the company’s former headquarters at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California. As Levy describes it:

Infinite Loop was the place where Apple’s leaders and engineers pulled off a historic turnaround, and it will always be the source of stories and legends—many of them untold. Until now.

It’s hard to pick among the anecdotes in Levy’s history, but one of my favorites is this from Phil Schiller because it captures the tough choice that had to be made when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and his empathy for customers:

Schiller: We’re like, “Steve! Newton customers are picketing! What do you want to do? They’re angry.” And Steve said, “They have every right to be angry. They love Newton. It’s a great product, and we have to kill it, and that’s not fun, so we have to get them coffee and doughnuts and send it down to them and tell them we love them and we’re sorry and we support them.”

There are fascinating details about Apple’s history in Levy’s piece that you won’t find anywhere else, and he’s done an excellent job weaving them into a cohesive, chronological narrative that shouldn’t be missed.

Permalink

Shortcuts User Guide

Extensive, nicely formatted guide for the new Shortcuts app, published directly by Apple today.

If you're absolutely new to the Shortcuts app and never played with Workflow before, this is where I'd start. The guide goes into great detail about what shortcuts are, how you can organize them, and what types of input are supported in Shortcuts. There's also an Advanced section where – and I never thought I'd see this – Apple explains x-callback-url and web APIs. Some of these sections have been adapted from the old Workflow documentation, but it's a fantastic resource regardless. And once you're done reading through Apple's materials, I'll be waiting here.

Permalink

Jony Ive Talks About Users’ Personal Connection with the Apple Watch

After the keynote Wednesday, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive was interviewed by The Washington Post about the Apple Watch Series 4. Ive told the Post:

“Every bone in my body tells me this is very significant”

What seems to have Ive most excited about the new Watch is its increasing independence from the iPhone:

“The clues for the future are when you can have a high degree of confidence that you personally are connected to the Net — not your phone, you,” said Ive.

The addition of a cellular radio to the Series 3 made a big difference in freeing the Watch from the iPhone. This year, I expect the difference will be felt more on the software side as developers implement apps that take advantage of the new watchOS 5 APIs.

Despite the Series 3’s cellular radio, I almost always took my iPhone with me for runs because I wanted to listen to podcasts. More than anything else, the ability to listen to my favorite shows untethered has the potential to free me from my iPhone.

Permalink

Google Is Discontinuing Its Inbox Email App in March 2019

Google launched Inbox in 2014 as a place to experiment with new email features, some of which made their way into the company’s Gmail app eventually. Although it served as a sandbox for trying new features like email snoozing, Smart Replies, and Nudges, Inbox was not updated nearly as frequently as Gmail. So, it wasn’t surprising to hear from Google yesterday that it plans to end support for Inbox at the end of March 2019.

If you are an Inbox user and want to move your email accounts to Gmail, Google has created a transition guide.

Permalink

Is Apple Neglecting Beats’ Headphone Business in Favor of Its Own?

The Verge has a story today by Micah Singleton in which he wonders whether Apple still cares about Beats, the company it acquired in 2014. As Singleton notes, no new products have been released under the Beats brand in 2018, and The Verge’s sources say we shouldn’t expect that to change at Apple’s keynote tomorrow.

Nonetheless, Beats continues to have marketing successes, like recently becoming the official headphones of the NBA and USA Basketball. However, the dearth of new products coupled with competition from Apple’s wireless AirPods and rumored premium over-the-ear headphones puts Beats in a tight spot, which Singleton argues is a mistake:

Apple has its eyes set on the high-end audio market to compete against the likes of Audio-Technica, Bose, and a rapidly improving headphone ecosystem. But neglecting the team that has been able to sell slightly above-average headphones at a breakneck pace for nearly a decade doesn’t seem like a smart business move for either party. If you are the official headphone company for United States Basketball, it seems wise to continue releasing new headphones. And if you are Apple — and your history with headphones and speakers has precisely one win, despite many attempts — you should lean on the company you own that hasn’t missed yet.

Beats jump-started Apple’s music streaming efforts, but other than adding the W1 chip to its wireless headphones in late 2016 and 2017, there have been few signs of Apple’s plans for Beats. I hope Singleton is wrong about Apple neglecting Beats because it would be a shame to squander the company’s valuable brand, though I suspect he may not be.

Permalink