The Future of Computing is Cameras →

Benedict Evans:

This change in assumptions applies to the sensor itself as much as to the image: rather than thinking of a ‘digital camera,' I’d suggest that one should think about the image sensor as an input method, just like the multi-touch screen. That points not just to new types of content but new interaction models. You started with a touch screen and you can use that for an on-screen keyboard and for interaction models that replicate a mouse model, tapping instead of clicking. But next, you can make the keyboard smarter, or have GIFs instead of letters, and you can swipe and pinch. You go beyond virtualising the input models of an older set of hardware on the new sensor, and move to new input models. The same is true of the image sensor. We started with a camera that takes photos, and built, say, filters or a simple social network onto that, and that can be powerful. We can even take video too. But what if you use the screen itself as the camera - not a viewfinder, but the camera itself? The input can be anything that the sensors can capture, and can be processed in any way that you can write the software.

Exactly why social media has evolved from text status updates to photos & video to visual storytelling.

Meanwhile, while we can change what a camera or photo mean, the current explosion in computer vision means that we are also changing how the computer thinks about them. Facebook or your phone can now find pictures of your friend or your your dog, on the beach, but that’s probably only the most obvious application - more and more, a computer can know what's in a image, and what it might represent. That will transform Instagram, Pinterest or of course Tinder. But it will also have all kinds of applications that don't seem obvious now, rather as location has also enabled lots of unexpected use cases. Really, this is another incarnation of the image sensor as input rather than camera - you don't type or say 'chair' or take a photo of the chair - you show the computer the chair. So, again, you remove layers of abstraction, and you change what you have to tell the computer - just as you don't have to tell if where you are. Eric Raymond proposed that a computer should 'never ask the user for any information that it can autodetect, copy, or deduce'; computer vision changes what the computer has to ask. So it's not, really, a camera, taking photos - it's more like an eye, that can see.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Business Insider

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 →

One of Galaxy Note 7's hallmark features this year is the iris scanner. I've personally had a hard time envisioning iris scanners as a better solution than fingerprint scanners, especially when companies (including Apple) are racing to build fingerprint scanning right into the touch screen.

This review by Steve Kovach — which is only one of many that came out today — validates my concern:

The iris scanner doesn’t work well in bright sunlight (it failed on me at the beach last weekend), and it’s not as convenient as clicking the home button and resting your fingerprint on the sensor to unlock the device. With the iris scanner, you have to power on the phone, swipe to unlock, and awkwardly hold the phone close to your face while staring into an interface that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Not exactly seamless.

Kovach's review overall gives a lot of credit to the Galaxy Note 7's beautifully-crafted hardware. But he also shines a light on Samsung Galaxy's biggest weakness:

If there’s one big weakness to the Note 7, it’s the software powering it. Samsung likes to make big modifications to Android, which often gums up the experience. That said, the interface is definitely a lot cleaner in the Note 7 than it’s been in previous Samsung phones. Still, Samsung has a horrible record of keeping its phones updated with the latest software, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting the new Note features a year from now.

On top of that, the Note 7 also comes bogged down with extras from carriers here in the US. I tested the T-Mobile version, and had to spend the first few minutes clearing away all the T-Mobile branded junk from my home screen. Plus, Samsung has its own suite of apps for email, calendar, etc. on top of all the Google versions of those apps. I’m not a fan of making users juggle two different apps for all the same tasks.

The redundant app solutions on Samsung devices definitely hinder the user experience. The other day I paid for my groceries with Apple Pay and the cashier told me she's been wanting to do that with her Samsung for the longest time.

She's just never been able to figure it out because when she holds up her phone to the credit card terminal, "some Android app pops up instead of Samsung Pay."

The software isn’t a deal breaker, but compared to the consistency and of iOS and its rock-solid ecosystem of apps and updates, it’s enough to still give the iPhone a very slight edge over the Note 7.

"The software isn't a deal breaker" to people who value hardware over software. But to people who value software and ecosystem more, this is a deal breaker.

Overall, the Note 7's biggest weakness is its software. It's not great, but it's good enough. Aside from that, when it comes to hardware and design, Samsung has cemented its position as the leader in the smartphone world. The Note 7 is the best phone the company has ever made, and one of the first you should consider buying.

Hardware-wise, the Galaxy Note 7 is the best & most exciting device Android has to offer. The S Pen is a key differentiator that provides a lot of value to certain types of consumers.

Software-wise, it still falls short of the streamlined iOS user experience and the iPhone ecosystem. And Samsung's S Pen advantage can be dampened with Apple Pencil support on future iPhones.

So, depending on which camp you are in — specs-oriented vs. experience-oriented — one product line will be an obvious winner over the other.

Anecdotally, everyone I know who switched from Samsung to iPhone switched mainly because of one reason — they got tired of Samsung's software.

iOS 10: The Future of iOS Apps is Widgets, Extensions →

iDownloadBlog explains that with iOS 10, you can now unlock the iPhone without launching the home screen:

When an iOS device is unlocked, the OS gives apps access to encrypted data.

As a result, launching Camera from the Lock screen of an unlocked device gives you unrestricted access to the whole Photos library as opposed to showing only the images taken during that particular session if you launch Camera from the Lock screen of a locked device.

Here’s another example.

For security reasons, many people prevent Lock screen access for the Notification Center. As much as this great for preventing someone from sniffing around your Notification Center, it’s also a nuisance as reading your incoming alerts requires you to unlock the device.

In addition to these lock screen changes, iOS 10 adds more ways to access apps without launching them individually:

  • bring up Siri and interact with richer app widgets
  • swipe on the home and lock screens to interact with richer app widgets
  • 3D Touch apps on the home screen for widgets and shortcuts
  • quickly switch to third-party iMessage apps without leaving the conversation (e.g. send Paypal money to friends)
  • perform third-party actions directly within Apple Maps (e.g. book an Uber ride)

These changes show that Apple's once proud, "There's an app for that," tagline is evolving into something different. Since iOS 2, we've thought of the operating system as the platform which you use to launch traditional apps. Now, Apple is turning specific parts of iOS 10 — Siri, iMessage, Apple Maps, Lock Screen, Widget panel, 3D Touch Quick Access — into their own little platforms.

This makes things interesting for app development. Maybe in the future, app developers won't be saying, "I need to create apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch ."

Maybe in the future, they'll be saying, "I need to create widgets and extensions for Siri/iMessage/Maps/Music/etc" and everything will simply work on all Apple devices.

Prediction: Fastest iOS Upgrade Adoption Ever →

Craig Federighi:

Yeah. Messages is the most-used app on iOS, period. So, it's used a lot. And certainly, we saw that every time we'd add a couple new emoji, it would be the biggest thing. We work all year on, like, a new file system or something…

And it turns out the rest of the world outside this room was more excited about the two new emoji! So, we figured, y'know, if there's one place we can make a tremendous difference in how people experience iOS fundamentally, they're spending a lot of time in Messages.

And so, we put a ton of creative energy into it, and ultimately, through opening up to developers, I think the collective energy that will go into making Messages great is going to be phenomenal.

I've seen stubborn slow adopters resist software and hardware upgrades until Apple released new emojis and new iPhone colors. And iMessage is one of those features that everybody loves.

This is a no-brainer to me so I'm calling it now — iOS 10 will see the fastest iOS upgrade adoption ever.

iPhone: Apple's One-Trick Pony →

John Kirk:

One of the barbs most frequently hurled at Apple by its critics is that no new Apple product — whether it be Apple Music or Apple Watch or the iPad Pro, etc. — is, or has any chance of being, as big as the iPhone.

No [shit] Sherlock.

Of COURSE no new product is going to be as big as the iPhone — because there is NOTHING BIGGER THAN THE IPHONE. And that’s the point.

The iPhone dominates the most dominant tech sector of our time.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t criticize Apple for not surpassing the profits of the iPhone without acknowledging the profits of the iPhone or the fact that no one has been able to surpass the success of the iPhone.

Saying that Apple’s success is “limited” to the iPhone is like saying:

  • Henry Ford’s success was “limited” to cars
  • John D. Rockefeller ‘s success was “limited” to oil
  • Andrew Carnegie’s success was “limited” to steel
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt’s success was “limited” to railroads

Being limited to a product with limitless potential, ain’t such a bad thing and if you have to be dependent upon something, it’s best to be dependent upon the most dependably profitable product of your time. [Emphasis mine]

Typical iPhone Haters Be Like… →

Typical iPhone Hater:

So, basically your question is "Should I buy a device that uses the same technology as every other smart phone but costs substantially more, has few useful software features, hundreds of apps that all do the same thing, and will be considered gauche in a year?"

Yes. Because:

  • Apple's ecosystem is more tightly integrated with its own devices/software/services as well as major partner companies. Look at how many credit card companies and banks support Apple Pay.
  • iOS is more secure and reliable than Android. (See "Stagefright" exploit and "Google won’t fix security bug in nearly a billion Android phones")
  • iOS developers are quicker to adopt the latest APIs/features because iOS users update their OS far faster than Android. (iOS 9 adoption is at 50% in less than a week. Android Lollipop took 5 months to reach 12%.)
  • when iOS devices break, there is free face-to-face customer support at Apple Stores. And often times, they'll replace broken devices with brand new ones, for no extra charge. (Where do Android users take their phones when they break?)

All of those points have value that some consumers find worthy of paying a premium for. None of these points are ever highlighted in spec sheets, but they are real things that convert first-time Apple customers into happy, loyal ones.

Everyone wants to maximize their bang for their buck. But there are two kinds of people:

  1. those who focus on minimizing the cost
  2. those who focus on maximizing the value

Loyal Apple customers are the latter.

The iPhone Upgrade Plan is a Game-Changer →

Jan Dawson:

So why is this a big deal? Well, the reasons are fairly simple: it allows Apple to take over the primary relationship with the customer, relegating the carrier to a secondary role in relation to their device purchase. Yes, you’ll absolutely still have a direct relationship with the carrier, but it will now be exclusively around the service plan and you’ll no longer be dependent on the carrier for upgrading your device. You’ll now be able to put your carrier on autopilot while you have a much more active relationship with Apple, upgrading annually on a set schedule.

My favorite part about this is how it forces the carriers to compete. Looking forward to better reliability, customer service, and more competitively-priced service plans as the carriers bend over backwards to retain customers.

How the iPhone Can Grow in Emerging Markets →

Viranch Damani:

One possible solution is for Apple to sell refurbished devices in countries like India. In the US, the shift to leasing plans such as T-Mobile’s Jump on Demand and iPhone Forever program will make people return their iPhones every time they upgrade.

If these returned iPhones are refurbished, packed and sold again by Apple in emerging countries such as India at reduced rates they would sell very well. This will have two possible solutions:

  1. Apple would not have to develop a low-cost iPhone for emerging markets and risk possible cannibalization of the high-end.

  2. These refurbished iPhones, sold at reduced rates, will not only help Apple boost sales significantly but will help them maintain a good experience for the end users which is very important for Apple’s business model.

While all of the carriers are moving away from subsidizing to on-demand upgrading, all of these returned iPhones at the end of each lease will have to end up somewhere.

This is something that Android or Windows will never be able to do, simply because they don't have Apple's brand strength or smartphones that maintain a high enough resale value.

For Apple, U.S. carriers, iPhone users in the U.S, and potential iPhone customers in emerging markets, this is simply a win-win-win-win.

Speed Test: iPhone 6 vs. Samsung Note 5 →

Buster Hein:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is one of the most beefed up and powerful smartphones the world has ever seen. In terms of raw specs, the Note 5 blows the 2014 iPhone 6 out of the water with 4GB of RAM and a zippier processor, but as Apple has taught us for so many years, specs don’t always translate into better performance.

To see how fast the Galaxy Note 5 is compared to last year’s iPhone hardware, DroidModderX pitted the two devices against each other in a speed test designed to mimic everyday use, and the results were quite surprising. The iPhone is running on weaker hardware, but thanks to Apple’s software it managed to blow the Note 5 out of the water, thanks to Samsung’s horrible TouchWiz UI that bogs down all the memory.

Better specs does not equal better experience.

Smarter software > beefier hardware.

An iPhone-Hater's Two Months with an iPhone →

Joe Casabona, a self-proclaimed iPhone-hater, concludes his two-week review of an iPhone 6:

I didn’t hate my time with the iPhone, but I definitely wasn’t convinced to convert. There are things I’m just used to on Android and prefer. I know it seems close point for point, but the things I didn’t like are weighted much more than the things I liked.

I still plan on using the device for testing, and will likely use it on trips or longer days when I need the battery and want to take nice photos. It will likely be my primary device in Disney World, and when I do some more traveling this summer.

Six weeks later, Joe humbly admits his two-week review wasn't fair:

There were 2 factors in my first trial with the iPhone that stacked the odds against me ever liking the device. I wasn’t using it as my only full time device, and I didn’t use all the features.

The first factor made my user experience with the iPhone more like this: “Ugh. I don’t like this; I’m just going to do it on my Android phone.” That means I never used the iPhone enough to not have a frustrating (read: different from Android) experience. The second factor was the real kicker. I was excluding the features that make using iOS great. I didn’t turn on iMessage. I wasn’t using Passbook or Apple Pay. Handoff was something that was hands-off for me (pun totally intended).

He concludes:

This has been a strange experience for me. I’ve been such an outspoken proponent of Android. It was more like anti-iPhone. That means making the switch has been one of begrudging acceptance. At first, I didn’t like that I liked it.

But as I use the iPhone more and see how well it actually works, it’s clear that Android is great for some things. But needs to mature in other aspects. And I think Google knows that too. The change in treatment of Android over the last few years has been noticeable. It’s like Google said, “GUYS. We need to fix this mess.”

But still. As I write this post using iA Writer on my iPad, I know I will be able to proof it on my iPhone while I wait at Baggage Claim. Then I will hit publish from my Mac, all without having to push a sync or refresh button. And that’s some powerful stuff.

After fully embracing the iPhone, Joe is able to realize the powerful benefits of the Apple ecosystem, the seamless integrations, and how it simply feels with real first-hand experience.

Because at the end of the day, real people don't care about how impressive the tech specs or feature lists look on paper; people care about how well technology feels when it's integrated into their lives.