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Posts tagged with "iPhone"

How the 6s Plus Is Reshaping My iPhone Experience

In April, I settled an argument with myself. After years of assuming that a small and compact phone was what I wanted, I realized that the iPhone 6 Plus was the pocket computer for me. The size, harder one-handed operations, software slowdowns caused by memory constraints and resolution downsampling – ultimately, none of those potential 6 Plus issues pushed me to reconsider my decision. I had adjusted to the hybrid nature of the iPhone 6 Plus, and I couldn't go back.

My physical traits and lifestyle habits meet the prerequisites necessary to use a 6 Plus on a daily basis. My hands are big enough for size not to be a deal breaker; I'm no longer constrained by obligatory one-handed operations; and generally, when I need to use my iPhone, I can use two hands for a better grip or faster interactions, and I don't mind it.

I say "hybrid" as a callback to how many refer to the 6 Plus, but I don't mean it in a pejorative light for the iPad. Since I switched to the 6 Plus in February, my use cases for the iPhone and iPad Air 2 have continued to be distinct and well-suited for the nature of each platform.

The iPad Air 2 is my primary computer, which I use to write and publish articles, manage MacStories, play games, read, and every other activity I used to perform on a Mac. The Air 2 has the unique advantage of being a truly portable computer, and it's my most used iOS device to date.

The iPhone is the pocket computer for everyday life. It's my camera. It's my home remote. It's Twitter and Slack. It's my health companion. I value my iPad immensely (I wouldn't be able to write this article without it), but the iPhone holds the key to my mobile lifestyle.

The iPhone is the hub around which everything revolves. Even the iPad – my computer – orbits the iPhone.

Based on lessons from the past few months, I knew getting an iPhone 6s Plus would be the best option for me. As I've witnessed, the Plus-sized iPhone and the iPad Air 2 don't compete with each other in my life: they complement each other's strengths. While I have sometimes traded one device for the capabilities of the other (such as reading on my iPhone instead of the iPad), I use each device for what it's best at, and I've never once doubted the role of the iPad in my daily workflow. I'm fine with a big iPhone, and I'm doing well with a big iPad. I like big screens. They're comfy.

As I outlined in my review, the most evident drawback of the iPhone 6 Plus was the inability to keep up with iOS 8. Whatever the reason – and no matter the performance improvements that Apple promised throughout the OS' update cycle – the iPhone 6 Plus always felt behind iOS 8, exhibiting stuttering animations, constantly purging recent apps from memory, and, generally, being sluggish.

It was reasonable, then, to wait for an S-class upgrade that would iron out the kinks and offer a more complete vision of the 5.5-inch iPhone. More RAM, an updated processor, an improved camera; faster multitasking, faster apps, faster everything. That's what I wanted. And knowing Apple – or, at least, knowing their penchant for a regular dose of small surprises – I assumed they'd throw in some seemingly minor but welcome new features for good measure as well.

The iPhone 6s Plus delivers on all these fronts, going beyond the "S stands for Speed" philosophy that is inexorably repeated every two years with changes I didn't expect.

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The Rise of (i)Phone Reading

Jennifer Maloney, writing for The Wall Street Journal last week on the rise of phone reading has some interesting stats regarding the iPhone 6:

Since the release of the bigger, sharper iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September, Apple has seen an increase in the number of people downloading books onto iPhones through its iBooks app. Some 45% of iBooks purchases are now downloaded onto iPhones, an Apple spokeswoman said. Before that, only 28% were downloaded onto phones, with most of the remainder downloaded onto iPads and a small percentage onto computers.

This increase isn't limited to Apple's iBooks app:

Amazon has also noted the development. Among all new customers using Kindles or the Kindle app, phone readers are by far the fastest-growing segment, an Amazon spokeswoman said, declining to disclose figures. Among those who use the Kindle app, more people now read books on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus than on any other Apple device, even the popular iPad Mini, she said.

Note how Apple said “downloaded onto iPhones” and not “entirely read on iPhones” – but still, it makes sense for people to read books (and I would assume, web articles) more continuously and ubiquitously on an iPhone than an iPad, especially thanks to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.


Visualizing Apple’s Historical iPhone Lineups, Guessing the Next One

We're rapidly approaching that time of the year when Apple introduces new iPhones, and BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski reported last week that the event will be take place on September 9. There will almost certainly be a lot to talk about after the event (Paczkowski says that the event will include a new Apple TV and iPads), but one thing that I've been thinking about is what the new iPhone lineup will look like. This was all precipitated by the discussion on last week's Talk Show with John Gruber and John Moltz.

Because my mind was a bit fuzzy on the historical iPhone lineups (particularly the early years), I decided to go back and make a graph to simply and clearly show what Apple has done in the past. The dates I used were based on when each iPhone was available in the US (not the announcement date). Tier 1 represents the newest and most advanced iPhone available at the time. Although there are slight differences between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, they are largely identical (both have an A8 processor with 1 GB RAM, etc) and as a result I've characterised them both as Tier 1. Tier 2 represents the next best iPhone available (often the previous year's Tier 1 model) and Tier 3 is the next best again.

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Apple Posts New ‘Photos & Videos’ iPhone Ad

Apple aired a new commercial as part of their "If it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone" campaign, this time focusing on the device's camera for photos and videos.

The entire ad showcases full-screen photos and videos taken on the iPhone 6, noting that "every day, millions of amazing photos" are shot with iPhone. Unlike other ads in the campaign, there's no mention of third-party apps – just the iPhone's camera and animations generated by photos and videos. Previously, Apple had featured iPhone photography with the "Shot on iPhone 6" initiative, which was later expanded to ads, films, and billboards across the world.

You can watch Apple's latest iPhone commercial below.

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Making Music on iOS: Guitar Amps, Effects Apps & Hardware

BIAS custom amps

BIAS custom amps

Back in the 1980s I played guitar. Yes, I’m that old. I learned from books and by playing along with CDs, and I jacked my Charvel guitar (awesome) into a Session guitar amp (terrible), and I never really got any better.

Now, 30-odd years later, I’m at it again. And like most things, except mobile phones, everything is better than it was in the 80s. Mid-range and even low-end guitars are better-made and cheaper. Amps are cheap and no longer terrible. And we have iOS devices and apps which can replace whole suitcases full of effects pedals.

That’s what we’re looking at today – iPad (and iPhone) guitar amp simulations, along with virtual effects pedals. And along the way, we’ll look at hardware to connect up your guitar to the iPad, and at some speaker options so you can actually hear yourself play.

Spoiler alert – the guitar world has taken a big turn towards the awesome.

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My Must-Have iPhone Apps, 2014 Edition

For the past four years, I’ve been running a series called My Must-Have Apps that, once a year, collects all the apps I find indispensable to get work done on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Considering changes to my daily life and workflow, this year only features my must-have iPad and iPhone apps.

The iPhone has changed my professional life, and it’s a powerful and essential pocket computer that I carry with me all the time. But I prefer to get work done on my iPad.

There was a time when I thought that I could work entirely from my iPhone; after upgrading to a cellular iPad two years ago and once I began moving to an iPad-centric workflow, I realized that the tablet was the iOS device that I preferred for writing, reading, doing email, and watching movies. For millions of users, the iPhone turns into a mobile computer as soon as they step away from the comfort of a desk with a Mac. But I’ve come to realize that I’d rather have two iOS devices with me at all times – a smaller iPhone and a bigger iPad – than one that tries to do everything at once. Which is why, ultimately, I decided to go with an iPhone 6 and an iPad Air 2 this year.

In spite of my personal preference, though, I can’t deny the fact that, nowadays, it’s hard to find iOS apps – and especially utilities or productivity-related apps – that aren’t Universal. The trend of “iPad-only” and “iPhone-only” apps has been substantially downsized in recent years – none of the apps on my iPad Home screen are exclusive to the iPad at this point. So while I like and use the iPhone more for listening to music, taking pictures, or monitoring my health data, I still end up installing a text editor, a shortcut launcher, and a Python interpreter on my iPhone because they’re available and because why not. This isn’t an ideal scenario – too many developers are making iOS apps that simply scale across screen sizes without taking advantage of the unique features of each platform – but that’s beyond the scope of this series.

It was tough to compile a list of must-have iPhone apps this year: I’ve already covered most of them in my iPad article, and I don’t use the iPhone as much as my iPad. But at the same time, I realized that, for those times when I needed to work from my iPhone, those smaller iPad apps were absolutely necessary, even if not running on a screen size that I’m comfortable with. And, more importantly, I believe the article can be useful to readers who had no interest in iPad apps and my iPad workflow.

This year, I’ve only covered iPad and iPhone apps, as I practically don’t use a Mac anymore. For apps shared across my iPad and iPhone, I used the same base descriptions, with differences for the iPhone versions noted and rewritten where necessary. This is a remix and addendum to my must-have iPad apps.

In the list below, you’ll find apps organized in seven sections:

  • Work Essentials
  • Social
  • Audio and Music
  • Photos and Screenshots
  • News
  • Health
  • Utilities

At the end of the article, you’ll also find my iPhone App of the Year and a Runner-up. Each app has a direct iTunes link, and, where possible, I’ve included links to previous MacStories coverage as well.

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iPhone 6 Camera Compared to Previous iPhone Cameras

Lisa Bettany:

In the past seven years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The iPhone 6 is no different. Besides being faster to shoot and easier to focus, the images taken with the iPhone 6 camera show greater detail and are significantly better in low-light.

In this follow-up post to my iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 comparisons, I present an 8 iPhone comparison from all iPhone versions taken with Camera+ including, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 in a variety of situations to test the camera’s capabilities.

Great compilation. Check out the lowlight and backlit galleries to really get the differences.



The iPhone is good at many trivial tasks such as playing games and watching videos, but this week I experienced firsthand how much its portability and apps matter when dealing with an emergency situation.

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