“The Apple TV 4K does everything”

The best streaming video player to buy right now – The Verge:

At $179, the Apple TV 4K is on a completely different pricing tier than Roku and Amazon. But if you’re willing to spend that much, in return you’ll get the most polished experience of any set-top box on the market.

The Apple TV 4K does everything; it supports 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HDR10. It’s the box we recommend if you want to take full advantage of all the features in a high-end TV. Apple’s iTunes store has an enormous vault of content that can showcase those features. The menus feel more modern and stylish than those on the Roku, and Siri is a little better at voice search than Roku’s system, too. App selection is equally as strong. The one asterisk is that YouTube won’t stream in 4K on the Apple TV because Apple doesn’t support Google’s preferred video codec.

Apple’s device is very powerful and lighting fast in day-to-day use. If you’ve gone in on the company’s HomeKit smart home ecosystem, the Apple TV acts as a hub and allows you to control those gadgets remotely when away from the house.

A good reminder that although higher in price compared to its competitors iterations, what you get for that money is the #1 streaming experience with all 3 major platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime & iTunes) on 1 device.

 

Force Quitting Apps on iOS

John Gruber:

The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.

That’s not how iOS works. The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively “frozen”, severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using. iOS is really, really good at this. It is so good at this that unfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.

Here’s a short and sweet answer from Craig Federighi, in response to an email from a customer asking if he force quits apps and whether doing so preserves battery life: “No and no.”

Just in case you don’t believe Apple’s senior vice president for software, here are some other articles pointing out how this habit is actually detrimental to iPhone battery life:

I see people regularly force quitting their apps all the time – people who do this are idiots.

John Gruber on the iPhone introduction:

The iPhone’s potential was obviously deep, but it was so deep as to be unfathomable at the time. The original iPhone didn’t even shoot video; today the iPhone and iPhone-like Android phones have largely killed the point-and-shoot camera industry. It has obviated portable music players, audio recorders, paper maps, GPS devices, flashlights, walkie-talkies, music radio (with streaming music), talk radio (with podcasts), and more. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft wouldn’t even make sense pre-iPhone. Social media is mobile-first, and in some cases mobile-only. More people read Daring Fireball on iPhones than on desktop computers.

In just a handful of years, Nokia and BlackBerry, both seemingly impregnable in 2006, were utterly obliterated. The makers of ever-more-computer-like gadgets were simply unable to compete with ever-more-gadget-like computers.

Ten years in and the full potential of the iPhone still hasn’t been fully tapped. No product in the computing age compares to the iPhone in terms of societal or financial impact. Few products in the history of the world compare. We may never see anything like it again — from Apple or from anyone else.

A “Perfect” looking back piece on the iPhone introduction from John Gruber. Encapsulating the “Where were you when the iPhone was introduced” moment, the “Holy shit!” experience when holding it in your hands for the first time and its remarkable effect on the industry. Here’s to another ten years.

“Getting Things Done”

Matt Gemmell on the recent “iPad replacing laptop” discussions:

In terms of the tasks I need my computing device for, I do some dorky technical stuff, and I use automation utilities, and some scripting, and I also produce actual work. Plus I do all the usual web browsing and email and social media. The iPad isn’t a laptop replacement, because it’s not a laptop. I wasn’t looking for one. I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone under twenty years of age with a laptop, either. But the iPad has replaced my MacBook. That’s a fact.

No-one’s saying that it either can or can’t replace yours, or whether you’d want it to. Except the pundits and journalists who can’t seem to let go of the idea that it’s an either-or situation, where we need to have a winner and a loser. I’m not sure what they’re afraid of.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are just getting things done.

Matt, as per usual with the frank, spot on view.

Should you upgrade to the iOS 11 public beta?

Serenity Caldwell on the Pro’s & Cons of upgrading to iOS 11 Beta:

Fall 2017 will be here before you know it, and those features you’re so excited for will be a lot more fun when they don’t result in lost productivity.

I myself tried the beta 1 and later the beta 2 on my iPad and iPhone but it’s not just the occasional lag and general slowness to your devices that the early versions bring, it’s also the incompatibility with some 3rd party apps that I tend to rely on to work everyday which resulted in me reverting back to iOS 10 and waiting for the fall.

Your’ vs. ‘My’

John Gruber in response to The Verge’s iPad replacing your laptop article:

Again, Apple is not trying to convince everyone to replace a traditional Mac or PC with an iPad. Apple executives say that the Mac has a bright and long future because they really do think the Mac has a bright and long future. Any review of the iPad and iOS 11 from the perspective of whether it can replace a MacBook for everyone is going to completely miss what is better about the iPad and why.

Spot on from John on this – The Verge seem like they are trying to create a comparison argument for which Apple have not alluded to. Consumers can ask the question whether they should buy a tablet or a laptop and that’s a fair point but only when it’s relevant. A more relevant and fairer piece might be on the differences between Apple’s Siri and their competitors A.I. devices and services. 

Why the BBC will struggle to make iPlayer as good as Netflix

Jasper Jackson writing for The Guardian:

And then there are the technical challenges of making any radical changes to iPlayer. As a publicly funded, public-service broadcaster, the BBC has a duty to be available as widely as possible. That means making sure iPlayer is compatible with services such as Sky, Virgin and YouView, plus many smart TVs and other devices.

Adding new features, or even making the way its video is delivered more efficient, risks breaking earlier versions or making it incompatible with older devices and services.

iPlayer will only ever show it’s own created and licensed content therefore limiting its capabilities of being able to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon but that’s ok as it was never intended to. The TV Licence guarantees a sustainable income in a similar way to how Netflix and Amazon charge a subscription but conversely, the income from the TV licence money has to go a long way in covering the corporation’s costs right across the board more so than Amazon or Netflix who generate additional incomes. By the looks of their recent quality dramas, there is certainly no skimping on production values though at the BBC.

On the subject of iPhone 6 Plus #mykewasright

Myke Hurley from Relay.fm has been the subject of light hearted discussions recently in regard to trying to convince his colleagues and friends that the bigger of the two new iPhones – the 6 Plus is the better iPhone to go for due to its superior screen, battery life etc.

I found two recent responses from Marco Arment and Jason Snell to be interesting.

Marco Arment writing on his site:

What’s better about the 6 Plus

  • Battery life: In my use, I’d estimate that it lasted about 50–75% longer than the iPhone 6, which is usually the difference between sometimes needing to charge it mid-day and reliably being able to last all day even in heavy usage.
  • Camera: The 6 Plus’ image stabilizer is a minor difference outdoors, but a noticeable difference indoors when it can select a lower ISO, resulting in less noise.
  • Typing: For whatever reason, the keyboard size on the 6 Plus (in portrait orientation) fits me better than the 6, resulting in far fewer errors. I’m already typing more accurately on the 6 Plus than I ever could on the 6.
  • Screen space: It’s nice when reading books, reading web pages, and showing photos. But the additional screen space is a relatively minor benefit to me overall, as most iPhone software doesn’t make good use of it.

I think we can all agree with these above points but you would expect that from a physically larger device.

Being accustomed to the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus doesn’t feel as huge as it did when it first launched and we were all accustomed to the 4-inch iPhone 5/5S. It stopped feeling huge in my hands within the first few hours of use.
The 6 Plus is indeed worse than the 6 for one-handed use, but not by nearly as much as I expected — both are poorly suited to it.
The 6 Plus also shares the 6’s unfortunate sleep/wake-button placement opposite the volume-up button, which I presume is a victory of visual symmetry over usability. Many months into ownership, I still sometimes accidentally hit both buttons.

I too still find myself suffering from muscle memory of when the sleep/wake button was at the top on the previous models.

Grip is about the same, too. Both lack side-grippability and feel precariously slippery when used without a case, even though I’ve never needed a case for any previous iPhones. The case-edge design (on both models) is so poor that I was very uncomfortable using the iPhone 6 until I got Apple’s leather case a few weeks later. Unsurprisingly, I have the exact same opinion about the 6 Plus: it’s too slippery without a case, but feels great with the Apple leather case.

I don’t find the iPhone 6 design slippery at all but I agree that a case would make it a better grip in the hand. I don’t agree that the case-edge design is poor – industrial design at its best – smoother, thinner, less jarring.

A common theme among other reviews is that the 6 Plus is a “different kind of device” that inspires a different usage pattern, more like a tiny iPad than a large iPhone, with more two-handed and/or landscape-orientation usage. I haven’t found this to be the case. Maybe that’s because I’ve never been a heavy iPad user, but the 6 Plus doesn’t feel like an iPad or a new kind of device at all to me — it just feels like a huge iPhone.
In fact, the iPad-crossover enhancements mostly annoy me, and I’d disable them if I could. The iPad-style treatment of split-view apps and slide-up modal views in landscape orientation feels cramped and hacky at best — it just feels like a too-small iPad, rather than a too-large iPhone. I’m also constantly rotating the home screen unintentionally, requiring me to use portrait lock regularly for the first time.

Much like Jason Snell alluded to last year, you shouldn’t expect to come close to replicating the iPad experience on the 6 Plus – it’s a good idea but it has not been executed throughly enough to take advantage of the 6 Plus’s bigger screen yet – maybe iOS 9 will see some refinement in this area.

Marco finishes his article by suggesting he will move to the 6 Plus to take advantage of the bigger features even though he laments the current design of both models.

Jason Snell writing for Six Colors:

I really did appreciate the iPhone 6 Plus’s longer battery life. The longer life is noticeable, and was much appreciated as I was wandering around London. And I got used to the size of the device in my pocket in no time, but beyond that, I have to say I’m hard pressed to find anything I prefer about the iPhone 6 Plus over my iPhone 6. Yes, the screen is larger, but I didn’t ever feel that I was seeing more of the world by viewing an extra tweet in Twitterrific or a little bit more territory in Maps.

The extra screen is clearly going to be an advantage in apps that show video, photos or games – there will be a clear benefit there but I agree some apps like Twitter or Maps won’t be advantageous.

When I returned to my iPhone 6 upon landing back in the U.S., I felt instantly more comfortable when holding the smaller phone. During my two weeks with the 6 Plus, I had taken to cradling it with two hands whenever possible. I use my iPhone 6 with a single hand all the time, but that’s much harder for me to do with the 6 Plus—I could barely stretch my thumb across the 6 Plus screen to the bottom right corner, let alone reach items at the top of the screen. And I kept feeling like I was about to drop the phone as I continually moved it in my hand in order to tap the right part of the screen
People with large hands (or who rely less on one-handed operation) might have a very different experience, but for me it was just too big a device, with not enough functional gain elsewhere. I’m back to the iPhone 6 now and not missing the big guy at all. I don’t disapprove of people who prefer the 6 Plus to the 6—and I know a bunch of my colleagues are definitely rethinking their choices—but I’m afraid I won’t be joining the club.

For a pocket device which is where the iPhone is targeted at, one handed use is essential for me. In my tests with the 6 Plus, for all the good of reachability – it’s definitely a two-handed device. Each device whether it’s the Watch, iPad, iPhone, MacBook – no matter how portable these devices are, I believe they are still designed for a typical use case within the mobile category so the iPhone will always be the quick pocketable device to be used one handed and that is where the iPhone 6 and not the iPhone 6 Plus excels.

Myke’s Relay.fm colleague Stephen Hackett recently wrote on his site that what helped him sway towards the 6 Plus was the notion of purchasing the Apple Watch so he wouldn’t have to rely on pulling the 6 Plus out of his pocket for most of the time. Although I see some logic to this I am odds with this when I think off the dependency of having to carry a paired iPhone with the Apple Watch on you and perhaps not fully knowing through experience of exactly how our iPhone use will decrease if at all. Once we have spent some time carrying the iPhone and Apple Watch together will we know if the 6 Plus’s larger size be an issue.

New photos purportedly show 4th-generation iPad mini casing with iPad Air 2-like design

 

New photos purportedly show 4th-generation iPad mini casing with iPad Air 2-like design | 9to5Mac

A new batch of photos published by French site NowhereElse may give us an idea of what the next generation of the iPad mini will look like. The images are said to be of the casing for the unannounced tablet upgrade, and seem to feature some design elements inspired by the most recent version of the larger iPad model.

While the third-generation iPad mini was simply a Touch ID-equipped version of the previous model, many Apple fans are hoping to see a redesign much like this with the next refresh.

Aside from the obvious similarities in the shape and materials, the photos and a video of the shell (which can be seen below) reveal a redesigned speaker grille that mirrors the iPad Air 2’s move away from two rows of speaker holes to just one. The new shell also indicates that the iPad mini 4 may be thinner than its predecessor, though it doesn’t seem like a big stretch to predict that.

Also carrying over from the larger model to the smaller one is the lack of a mute/rotation lock switch, which isn’t such a necessity now that both of those functions are available in software through Control Center. The shell in the images appears to be from an LTE model, as given away by the cutout at the top of the device for the cellular antenna window and the presence of a SIM card slot below the volume rockers.

Makes sense that the iPad mini would change it’s case design to match the iPad Air model but does that mean that the iPad Air 3’s shell won’t change? Last year there was outcry when the mini didn’t receive as much love as the Air so I would fully expect the mini to be nigh-on identical to the Air this year just like the 2013 revisions.

Tidal Longevity

 

Helienne writing for The Guardian on why she thinks Lily Allen is wrong about Tidal:

Over Easter, Lily Allen took to Twitter to critique Jay Z’s music streaming service Tidal. She’s not the the first person to oppose the opulence of its star-studded launch event last week, or to voice pessimism about its mantra of doing right by artists, but as a fellow songwriter – who, unlike Allen, is not a performer – I think she’s wrong in a number of ways.

First, Allen fears that not having an unlimited free tier “will send people back to pirate/torrent sites”. However, a major label executive recently told me that their statistics showed that if a user of the free version of Spotify hasn’t signed up for the paid-for tier within three months, they never will. The ad-funded version pays about the same as YouTube (ie next to nothing), so losing those users to YouTube isn’t much of a loss.

I’d rather have my music on a service that is majority-owned by music creators, rather than owned by venture capitalists looking for a quick turnaround on their investment, hoping to be able to cash out with a big IPO payday.

You only need to look at the major record labels, who now have to answer to shareholders wanting a quick return on their investments, to see what happens when it’s all about share value. It’s anathema to creativity and the kind of risk-taking that is required to invest in music people don’t yet know they want to listen to.

It’s no surprise that Jay Z is close to and has links to Beyonce, Kanye, Alicia Keys etc to be able to easily convince them to have exclusives of their work on Tidal before anywhere else, especially with the promise of higher cuts of the royalties back to them over services like Spotify, but at the end of the day subscribers will determine the long term popularity of switching their music platform of choice over from what they are used to – Even Rihanna had a difficult start yesterday. Jay Z and Tidal will have to compete with Spotify and Apple to ensure uptake in the service and that will be the key to all of this.