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Posts tagged with "iPhone"

iPhone 8 and iPhone X: The MacStories Overview

This morning Tim Cook took the stage for the first time at the brand new Steve Jobs Theater within Apple Park. Following a touching tribute to Steve Jobs himself and a slew of other announcements, Cook introduced the products that everyone was waiting for: this year's new iPhones.

Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup has a big twist over past offerings. Rather than just releasing two models of differing size and very similar specifications, the Cupertino company has announced three new models. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are a fairly standard yearly update, including processor, camera, design, and display improvements, as well as a few unique and interesting new perks. Unveiled alongside these, however, is the big new thing: the iPhone X.

Apple is calling the iPhone X1 the future of smartphones, and it certainly does look futuristic. There are some huge changes in this new device for both hardware and software, but before we get there let's review the updates to the also-brand-new iPhone 8 models. I know the iPhone X is getting most of the attention, but we shouldn't overlook that Apple has some excellent updates to its other models as well. If the iPhone X weren't shipping this year, Apple would still have a strong lineup of smartphones for 2017.

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Apple Posts September 12, 2017 Keynote and New Product Videos

If you didn't follow the live stream or announcements as they unfolded at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino today, Apple has posted the video of the event along with the product videos debuted on stage.

The keynote video can be streamed in Safari here and on the Apple TV using the Apple Events app. A higher quality version should be made available in a few hours through iTunes on the Apple Keynotes podcast.

Apple also posted new commercials and product-reveal videos for the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and Apple Watch Series 3 on its YouTube channel. You can find all those videos below after the break.

You can also follow all of our Apple event coverage through our September 12 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated September 12 RSS feed.

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Embracing the Notch

Max Rudberg played around with some ideas for a future iPhone with a notch in the status bar and a virtual Home button:

Apple’s accidental release of the HomePod firmware prompted Steven Throughthon-Smith’s to go digging through and uncovering a lot of exciting pieces on the upcoming high-end iPhone, codename D22. Allen Pike then had an interesting take on what that new form factor could mean for the UI.

Allen’s idea of how the UI will change on the new phone match many of my own thoughts. iOS 11’s large navbars seems like the biggest hint of upcoming change, and moving the left and right navbar items next to the home button allows for a much more convienient bottom oriented navigation. And everything just seems to fit.

I wanted to explore how this could look with a little more graphical polish, to try and figure out which way Apple would be most likely to go. I’ve used the same App Store Top Charts-screen as Allen did.

His mockups encapsulate why the next few weeks are going to be so fun – we think we know what the next iPhone is going to be like, but we also know nothing of its software. And an all-screen iPhone is, by definition, all about the flavor of iOS it runs.

I prefer the mockups that embrace the notch with a seamless transition of the title bar into a split status bar, but I could see a return to the old-school black status bar too. I haven’t felt this excitement around the new version of an iPhone from the design and developer community in years.


HomePod’s Firmware and the Next iPhone

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired on the biggest iPhone scoop in months:

When developer Guilherme Rambo saw that Apple had released firmware for the upcoming HomePod speaker, he thought it must have been a mistake. The HomePod doesn't come out until December, after all. Curiosity piqued, he started digging through the code, where he found perhaps the last thing he expected: Apple's next iPhone.

While some details regarding Apple's redesigned, high-end iPhone—called the iPhone 8 or iPhone Pro, though no one outside Cupertino knows the official name yet—had previously leaked, Rambo found in the HomePod not rumors or hints but Apple's own documentation of one of its biggest releases in years. It confirms a new look with a slimmer bezel, the death of the home button, and a powerful new face-recognition feature. It's the biggest bombshell Apple leak in years—and it came from Apple itself.

If it was an accident, this is a remarkable slip-up for Apple – not only was a glyph depicting an unreleased iPhone found in the HomePod firmware uploaded to Apple’s public servers – itself quite a curious story – but Rambo and the ever-proficient Steven Troughton-Smith are finding all kinds of references by digging into the software. From face unlock with support for facial expressions and an infra-red camera to major changes to the status bar (which is going to support a split mode) and the expected removal of the Home button, it sounds like the next iPhone is going to change the most basic iPhone interactions we know. We’re far from rumor territory at this point: we’re looking at references and APIs scattered throughout a firmware file uploaded on Apple’s servers.

Beyond changes to the core of iOS though, I’m interested to see how much iOS 11 was designed with this next iPhone in mind. The large title bars and new safe area inset APIs always seemed like obvious hints; I think Allen Pike is on the right track with his idea of title bar controls being docked at the bottom, next to the virtual Home button (which follows the theme of thumb-friendly navigation this year). But what about ARKit with the addition of a 3D-capable front-facing camera? And will a possible function area around the Home button be programmable by developers to add custom buttons and shortcuts, à la Touch Bar/iPad Shortcuts Bar?

As always, hardware leaks and rumors only tell one half of the future iPhone story, and to me that’s not even the most interesting part anymore. It’s all about the implementation of the hardware and software together, the constraints Apple faced, and the trade-offs they chose. This has never been more apparent than this year: we all seem to know what the next iPhone is going to look like, but nobody knows how iOS will work on it. The next Apple event is going to be a fun one.


iPhone 1.0: The 10th Anniversary MacStories Review

Author’s Note: When the iPhone was introduced in January 2007 at Macworld Expo, it was billed as a 3-in-1 device by Steve Jobs – a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. The first two points were met with loud applause. Jobs was promising a better iPod and mobile phone – two things everyone understood and could get behind.

The third selling point - a breakthrough Internet communications device – was met with confused reactions. What did he mean? The answer was more broad and profound than the obvious candidates like email, SMS, or web browsing. The iPhone was a full-blown Internet-connected computer that you could put in your pocket and take with you wherever you went.

I don’t know of any product that’s had a bigger impact on so many people’s lives. Whether at work or play, the iPhone created opportunities big and small that were not possible before its launch. With a groundbreaking touch interface and intuitive design, the iPhone democratized technology and empowered people on a far greater scale than the desktop PC has managed by connecting people across the globe in a new and powerful way.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the iPhone launched. I wasn’t there to review the iPhone when it debuted, and neither was anyone else at MacStories. Ten years ago, the founding of MacStories was still almost two years away, and I was in Adelaide, Australia visiting family.

I vividly remember staying up late in Australia to read the early reviews of the iPhone on the nearly useless WAP browser of my work-issued BlackBerry. I didn’t write about the iPhone then, so to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its launch, I brushed off those old memories and wrote what I would have written in 2007.

Let’s go back in time.

The long wait is finally over. Just over six months ago, Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld Expo to announce three products:

  • a widescreen iPod with touch controls;
  • a revolutionary mobile phone, and;
  • a breakthrough Internet communications device.

What? Three new products in one keynote? No, not three devices – one. On January 9, 2007, after years of rumors and speculation, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone.

Jobs took the iPhone through its paces at Macworld, thrilling the crowd with feature after feature. It seemed impossible. How could OS X fit into a phone? Was Safari on the iPhone as full-featured as on OS X? Macworld raised as many questions as it answered.

It didn’t help that the iPhone wouldn’t launch until June. There were no more demos, no hands-on time for the press, just the iPhone encased in a transparent tube on the show floor for visitors to gawk at.

In the past few months, some of the press took to calling the iPhone the ‘Jesus Phone’ for its promise of salvation from WAP browsers and the broken UIs of self-proclaimed smartphones. With the launch of the iPhone today at 6:00 pm Eastern, just one day before the end of the promised June delivery deadline, we can finally judge whether the iPhone is five years ahead of any other mobile phone as Jobs proclaimed in January.

Of course, it’s impossible to judge where the smartphone market will be in five years. However, measured against the hype at Macworld, the answer seems to be yes, the iPhone does deliver, though not without some caveats and many risks that could limit its adoption by consumers. For early adopters willing to pay the price and live with some rough edges, though, the iPhone is far ahead of every other available option.

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The Wall Street Journal’s Mini-Documentary on the Creation of the iPhone

The Wall Street Journal released a short documentary called Behind the Glass to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone’s release on June 29, 2007. The almost ten-minute long documentary cuts between interviews with Greg Christie, former Vice President of Human Interface, Scott Forstall, former Vice President for the iPhone Operating System, and Tony Fadell, former Senior Vice President of the iPod division. The three describe the struggle over whether to base the iPhone’s hardware on a multi-touch interface versus the iPod and the ensuing 2.5-year effort to create the first iPhone.

The interviews are short but recount several anecdotes, including the attempts to find a way to adapt the iPod’s interface to work as a phone and the predictive software used to make the touch keyboard accurate. Even ten years later, the retelling of the stories behind the iPhone’s birth is captivating.


John Markoff Interviews Original iPhone Engineering Team Members and Scott Forstall

Last night, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California hosted a two-two hour interview program. The event was split into two parts. The first half is an interview moderated by John Markoff who spoke with former iPhone team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra, and Scott Herz about the development of the original iPhone. The three engineers recount what it was like to be recruited to the secret project and detail the team’s efforts to bring the phone to market.

The second half of the program, which begins at about 1:07:00 in the video below, is a one-on-one interview by Markoff of Scott Forstall who led software development for the iPhone. The interview with Scott Forstall is his first public comment about the iPhone and Apple since he left the company in 2012 and covers a broad range of topics from early iPhone prototypes to demonstrating the iPhone to Cingular, the first carrier to offer the phone.

Both interview segments are full of entertaining anecdotes about the iPhone’s development and well worth watching by anyone interested in what it took to create the iPhone. Forstall is particularly engaging as a storyteller displaying the same enthusiasm and excitement that he used to show onstage at Apple keynotes.

A Frontline Perspective on the Birth of the iPhone

The Verge has a lengthy excerpt from Brian Merchant’s upcoming book, ‘The One Device: the Secret History of the iPhone.’ Merchant’s book chronicles the development of the iPhone from the recruitment of engineers, designers, and others at Apple, through the battles over its hardware and software implementation. What’s unique about the excerpt of ‘The One Device’ is that it doesn’t try to fit the story of the iPhone’s development into a neat and tidy straight-line narrative. Instead, the excerpt embraces the messy, twisted path the product took from inception to launch.

The first battle was over hardware and whether the iPhone would be a multitouch device or an adaptation of existing iPod hardware. According to Merchant, an iPod-based Apple phone made the first calls:

The first calls from an Apple phone were not, it turns out, made on the sleek touchscreen interface of the future but on a steampunk rotary dial. “We came very close,” Ording says. “It was, like, we could have finished it and made a product out of it… But then I guess Steve must have woken up one day like, ‘This is not as exciting as the touch stuff.’ ”

Once it was decided that the iPhone would be a multitouch device, the battleground shifted to whether the operating system would be based on OS X or the iPod’s OS:

“At this point we didn’t care about the phone at all,” Williamson says. “The phone’s largely irrelevant. It’s basically a modem. But it was ‘What is the operating system going to be like, what is the interaction paradigm going to be like?’ ” In that comment, you can read the roots of the philosophical clash: The software engineers saw P2 not as a chance to build a phone, but as an opportunity to use a phone-shaped device as a Trojan horse for a much more complex kind of mobile computer.

Ultimately, the iPhone was released as a touchscreen device that sported a stripped-down version of OS X, and has proven to be the mobile computer that its creators envisioned. What I like most about the excerpt, and why I immediately purchased the book, is that it tells the story of the iPhone from the perspective of the people who worked on it, which provides details that only the engineers and designers working on the front lines can bring to life.

‘The One Device: the Secret History of the iPhone’ by Brian Merchant will be released on June 20th and is available for pre-order on the iBooks Store and Amazon.


How One Rising Musician Works from an iPhone

David Pierce has a fascinating piece for WIRED on a hip-hop producer and artist, Steve Lacy, who makes music start to finish on his iPhone.

Lacy’s smartphone has been his personal studio since he first started making music. Even now, with all the equipment and access he could want, he still feels indelibly connected to something about making songs piece by piece on his phone. He’s also working this way to prove a point: that tools don’t really matter...If you want to make something, Lacy tells me, grab whatever you have and just make it.

Pierce describes a recording session he observed where Lacy used GarageBand, an iRig, and the iPhone's built-in microphone to create music.

He paged through the drum presets in GarageBand for a while before picking a messy-sounding kit. With two thumbs, he tapped out a simple beat, maybe 30 seconds long. Then he went back to the Rickenbacker. He played a riff he’d stumbled on while tuning, recording it on a separate GarageBand track over top of the drums. Without even playing it back, Lacy then reached down and deleted it. It took three taps: stop, delete, back to the beginning. He played the riff again, subtly differently. Deleted it again. For the next half hour, that’s all Lacy did: play, tap-tap-tap, play again. He experimented wildly for a while, then settled on a loose structure and began subtly tweaking it. Eventually satisfied with that bit, he plugged in his Fender bass and starts improvising a bassline. A few hours later, he began laying vocals, a breathy, wordless melody he sang directly into the iPhone’s microphone. He didn’t know quite what he was making, but he was feeling it.

Lacy's recording method is clearly an atypical one in the music industry, but it serves as a great testament to the power of iOS and the iPhone.