Tag Archives: Virtual Reality

Tuesday Talk ~ iPhones 8 and 10


(Images from Apple’s iPhone NZ page)

Is an X sexier than a 10? It’s bolder-looking, anyhow, but begs being expressed as ‘Ex’ instead of ‘ten’. I remember how uncomfortable Apple used to be about people saying ‘Oh Ess Ex’ (just say it a couple of times) yet they persisted, I wondered if changing the nomenclature to ‘macOS X’ was a part of the gradually persuasive campaign to get people to pronounce it as ‘macOS Ten’ instead (it used to just be ‘OS X’ but then iOS and watchOS became big players).

And should you wait for an iPhone X or spring for an 8? They have many of the same features, Personally, I don’t like phablets as they’re simply too big for the pocket, so the 8 is the natural choice for me for three reasons: it’s cheaper, it’s smaller and it’s available now.
I still have an iPhone 6. I bought it three years ago. I took all the pictures in my latest book with it. It’s getting a little shoddy but it still performs perfectly well and I like the slim form factor (virtually the same as the 8). If I can hang on till the iPhone 8s, I will, but it may not last that long. The iPhone 8 is a wonderful phone with an Apple-developed A11 Bionic CPU that blitzes the chips from all them other smartphone makers. That’s pretty compelling, although I have to admit, since I don’t play games on my iPhone, the camera advances are likely to be more useful to me. I have noticed my 6 processing photos quite slowly these days, so I will definitely appreciate more core-power.
Apple is using the new A11 Bionic in its iPhone 8/8 Plus models but it’s the same as that in the iPhone X. The scores Geekbench outlines for the three models show some variation between them (less than 5% in single core and around 7% in multicore), likely related to the difference in display resolution and offset by a difference in RAM.
The A11 Bionic is 25% faster in single core and 80% faster in multicore scores than iPhone 7. This is particularly noteworthy because Apple’s latest chip delivers new neural net, camera ISP and GPU capabilities above and beyond what a generic processor benchmark measures. With more Augmented and Virtual Reality apps due to start arriving soon, thanks to Apple’s ARKit promotion, this performance will become ever more useful.

I guess this all begs the question ‘are we excited about iPhone 8 and X?’ I don’t know if ‘excited’ is the right word for me, but that normally happens once an Apple expert talks me through a new device. These are very solid improvements, no doubt. I have always lauded Apple’s dedication to improving things and making them more useful. On that spectrum, these are pretty dramatic advances.
I’m really looking forward to a new iPhone for myself, for sure, and it’s not like me to imagine waiting another 12 months for something I really want and need, so we’ll see. For me, the 8 ticks all the boxes.
But do I understand the allure of the iPhone X model? I have to say no, for the same reason I don’t ‘get’ Porsches. They’re technically amazing, for sure, but you can’t drive them anywhere near their performance, so what’s the point? Apart from showing off. I’ve never been one to own things merely to show off, and to me so far, at it’s ridiculous price point, the X hints more of that.

I don’t believe this is just reverse-snobbery, by the way. I like to use something to at least 50% of its capabilities. Driving a supercar on a New Zealand road, you’re getting 20% of its potential at best. Paying a premium to do that is very far away from common sense.
I feel the same way about an iPhone X. At least there are no speed limitations for it, but very few iPhone users will be pushing it to anywhere near its potential.
So what’s the point, unless you have the ego of a Mike Hosking? (And indeed, what’s the point of Mike Hosking’s ego? It’s without worth.)

Tuesday Talk ~ Moan fest


(Image from Apple Insider)

I feel Tuesday Talk has become a moan-fest about what Apple could be, its failings and what the Inc could do better. It didn’t used to be this way – when I used to write about Apple for the New Zealand Herald it was to continuously trumpet Apple’s successes. Apple is still ‘successful’ in that it has a global presence and makes tons of money, of course, but for the last two years Apple seems to have been focussing its energies and resources on … gosh, I don’t know what. Not tech and innovation anyway. At least not visibly.
Apple Watch just turned two, and I was always amazed by this product, mostly because it had serious competitors out there in the market place before it was even actually a product. Rumours of the Apple Watch sparked companies to create smart watches that would be ‘better’ than ‘anything Apple could produce’ … except Apple hadn’t produced anything. That’s pretty incredible power right there.
But was Apple Watch the last really innovative thing Apple did? The Watch is beautifully built, and much more useful than you’d think at first sight. But Apple lost control of the market for a device it hadn’t even released, then had to work to regain the market it had itself created. Apple did, eventually, but this was a bizarre situation that it inadvertently orchestrated for itself.

Since the Watch introduction, Mac lines have languished; iPhone has had some regular updates that haven’t been groundbreaking but definitely very good; iPad has had some regularising updates and its lineup has been refined. But for the rest, Apple now has to do something truly incredible at the World Wide Developers Conference in June on more than one front. The tech world will be focussed on Apple like never before.
But why has Apple been acting this way? That’s what I can’t work out. John Gruber, who I interviewed a few years ago in Wellington, reckons Apple’s team focus has been too much on iPhone.
Sure, under Jobs, Apple would focus its key team members on different projects one after another: a project would get the love, then the love would get moved on to another category. This approach made perfect sense when Apple was lean, a little desperate and lacked resources and power – but now that Apple has resources and power to burn, this approach no longer makes any sense. At all.
Frankly, I’m amazed Apple is still doing this. Indeed, Bryan Chaffin reckons Apple’s Achilles heel is the leadership team’s slavish devotion to maintaining a tiny executive inner circle. This appears to have led to positional nest-feathering and structured, impenetrable ennui. We are supposed to be impressed when Cook, Schiller et al even talk in public, when I’d rather see them releasing new products. I actually don’t care who these people are, they’re not my Apple rock stars. Apple’s products should be.

Even Virtual Reality … sure, I’m excited Apple has set up an AR/VR lab in Wellington, New Zealand. Who wouldn’t be? But really? Google, Microsoft and other big players have been exploring this space for years already. Does Apple really think a white headset with an Apple logo on it at twice the price is all Apple is capable of? All we expect? I really, really hope not. Apple needs to work hard to be a relevant player in this space if it’s going to enter it at all. Apple has been publicly ignoring virtual reality while hiring and acquiring experts at an impressive rate.
Meanwhile, Apple as a gaming platform has had some remarkable successes in iDevices, yet it’s still largely ignored on Mac as it has been for decades. This shouldn’t matter to people who use Macs for anything but gaming, but it does: Macs still have second-rate video cards compared to cheaper PCs largely because it can’t be bothered to attract decent games, which challenge and raise technical specs on PCs. This is galling – yet it has always been galling.
Which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be changed. It’s also galling because virtual reality games will explode.

So I have one message, Apple: please, please get your sh_t together!
I’d much rather be writing positive commentary.