Why Apple Killed the Headphone Jack →

John Paczkowski:

A tentpole feature of the new iPhones are improved camera systems that are larger than the cameras in the devices that preceded them. The iPhone 7 now has the optical image stabilization feature previously reserved for its larger Plus siblings. And the iPhone 7 Plus has two complete camera systems side by side — one with a fixed wide-angle lens, the other with a 2x zoom telephoto lens. At the top of both devices is something called the “driver ledge” — a small printed circuit board that drives the iPhone’s display and its backlight. Historically, Apple placed it there to accommodate improvements in battery capacity, where it was out of the way. But according to Riccio, the driver ledge interfered with the iPhone 7 line’s new larger camera systems, so Apple moved the ledge lower in both devices. But there, it interfered with other components, particularly the audio jack.

So the company’s engineers tried removing the jack.

In doing so, they discovered a few things. First, it was easier to install the “Taptic Engine” that drives the iPhone 7’s new pressure-sensitive home button, which, like the trackpads on Apple’s latest MacBook, uses vibrating haptic sensations to simulate the feeling of a click — without actually clicking. [...]

Second, there was an unforeseen opportunity to increase battery life. So the battery in the iPhone 7 is 14% bigger than the one in its predecessor, and in the iPhone 7 Plus, it’s 5% bigger. In terms of real-world performance gains, that’s about an additional two hours and one hour, respectively. Not bad.

Even better, removing the audio jack also eliminated a key point of ingress that Riccio says helped the new iPhone finally meet the IP7 water resistance spec Apple has been after for years (resistant when immersed under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes).

Death of the Headphone Jack →

Chuq Von Rospach breaks down the logic behind Apple reportedly removing the headphone jack from the next iPhone:

First, how many users use the port? Think about how usage breaks down:

  • Users using the supplied earbuds
  • Users using bluetooth headsets or speakers
  • Users using the built-in speaker
  • Users using headphones or speakers via the headphone jack

What’s the mix of these? I couldn’t find concrete data, but we can make some intelligent guesses. You see Apple’s earbuds everywhere: a large percentage of users seem to be quite happy with them (I don’t know why, I find them incredibly uncomfortable, but they’re free). This implies that if/when Apple releases the new iPhone they’ll likely release it with earbuds that work without the headphone jack, and that will solve the problem for these people. What percentage of users is this? 30%? 40%?

People who listen via the built-in speakers don’t care.

People who listen via some bluetooth device also don’t care. How many of these are there? Marco Arment on one of his podcasts made a comment that his analytics show that as many as half of the listens going through Overcast are to bluetooth devices (or perhaps bluetooth/speaker; I couldn’t find it to verify).

So I expect a major point from Apple will be that for most of us, the speaker jack is already unnecessary. What percentage is that? My guess is it’s around 70%, but it’s pretty clear that well over half of the audio emitted by an iPhone is already handled without using the jack, or will be with the new Earbuds in the box with the iPhone 7.

There's been a lot of speculation on why Apple wants to remove the headphone jack, including conspiracy theories that they want to take a short-term PR hit now so next year's all-new iPhone will be all glowing reviews.

I don't buy that.

I think it's simple and exactly what Chuq breaks down. Next week, I expect Apple will give us stats that'll show us the headphone jack has been dying a slow death anyway.

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.

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.

Why watchOS 2 Was So Slow →

Jason Snell:

You may not remember this, but before the Apple Watch came out, there were many rumors that it wasn’t able to get through a day without a charge. It’s clear that Apple made battery life a top priority, perhaps even the top priority: This thing better last all day. And so everyone was incredibly conservative with power and memory.

The result: They overshot. Most of the people I know now report that they end their day with their Apple Watches reporting 40 or 50 percent of remaining battery life. Fegerighi admitted that there was a lot of extra memory and battery life available to them when building watchOS 3, because they overshot so much. And that’s why watchOS seems almost impossibly better than watchOS 2, given that it’s running on the same hardware.

Classic approach by Apple — starting too restricted but loosen up over time instead of starting too open and tightening up over time.

Huge props to Apple for showing their ability to correct course.

Apple's New Subscription-Based Pricing for Apps →

John Gruber:

This dramatically changes the economics of the App Store. Until now, productivity apps could charge up front as paid downloads and that was it. Updates had to be free, or, to charge for major new versions, developers would have to play confusing games by making the new version an entirely new app. Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific, for example, did this, to justify years of ongoing development. Now, apps like this can instead charge an annual/monthly/etc. subscription fee.

This could be the change that makes the market for professional-caliber iPad apps possible. On the Mac, there has long been a tradition of paying a large amount of money for a pro app, then paying a smaller amount of money for major updates. The App Store has never allowed for that sort of upgrade pricing — but upgrade pricing is what enabled ongoing continuous development of pro software. Paying for each major new version, however, is arguably a relic of the age when software came in physical boxes. Subscription-based pricing — “software as a service (SaaS)” — the modern equivalent. That’s the route both Microsoft and Adobe have taken.

I don't see this affecting most mainstream consumers very much; most people really only use five apps, and those apps are usually the free, popular and cross-platform ones.

But what I am excited about is how this helps power users and productivity apps. Currently, most people would never take a chance on a $20 app. But with the new subscription-based pricing and free trials, that barrier is greatly lowered. Less commitment for consumers and more sustainability for developers.

I'm optimistic about real desktop-class apps coming to iPads and iPhone.

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]

Kids React to Windows 95 →

Tomorrow's workforce is today's kids who grew up on smartphones and tablets as their primary computers.

When these kids grow up, a "real computer" to them will not be a traditional laptop with disc drives, removable batteries, or user-upgradeable RAM/storage. Tomorrow's "real computer" will be more like today's Microsoft Surface, iPad Pro, or controversial MacBook.

Today's smartphones still have headphone jacks. The next iPhone reportedly will not.

Some will look at it as a step backwards. Apple sees it as a step forward.

iOS: The Enterprise OS of the Millennial Generation →

Tim Bajarin:

This younger generation does use PCs. However, they actually spend the most time on their iPhones and iPads and Macs are mostly relegated to serious productivity projects. More importantly, they know iOS inside and out as they spend much more of their day in this operating system then they do on any computer they have. I believe Apple understands this better than anyone and their most recent iPad Pro is a nod to this trend. More importantly, I see Apple using this to drive millennials towards making iOS their OS of choice as they move into their careers and new jobs. In fact, within 5-7 years, I suspect Windows will not even be of interest to this younger set, as iOS will be the device operating system that dominates their work and personal lifestyles.

Apple playing the long game.