Apple Watch: It Woke Me By Tapping My Wrist


Nellie Bowles and Dawn Chmielewski, Re/code:

“Just yesterday, somebody was saying, ‘Wow, do you know what I just did? I set the alarm in the morning, and it woke just me by tapping my wrist. It didn’t wake my wife or my baby,’” he recounted. “Isn’t that fantastic?”

That is Jony Ive talking. Fantastic? Yes, but I don’t see how this is possible. I was under the impression Apple Watch had a battery life that required nightly charging. Tim Cook on battery life, New York Times:

We think that based on our experience of wearing these that the usage of them will be really significant throughout the day. So we think you’ll want to charge them every night, similar to what a lot of people do with their phone.

The only possibility of this anecdote being true is that this somebody Ive is referring to had two Apple Watches: one for during the day and the other for wearing at night. With a battery life similar to that of today’s smartphones there is no way to wear Apple Watch during the day and continue to have it on while you are sleeping. The only way to wear Apple Watch while sleeping is to take it off and charge it during the day. Unless you are more interested in Apple Watch tapping your wrist to wake you up, I don’t see anyone regularly experiencing being woken up by her Apple Watch this way.





iPad Air 2: Review by Raymond Soneira


Raymond Soneira:

A major innovation for the iPad Air 2 (that is not fully appreciated) is an anti-reflection coating on the cover glass that reduces ambient light reflections by about 3:1 over most other Tablets and Smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). We measured a 62 percent decrease in reflected light glare compared to the previous iPads (Apple claims 56 percent) and agree with Apple’s claim that the iPad Air 2 is “the least reflective display of any Tablet in the world” – both are in fact understatements. While everyone has been in situations where it is difficult or even impossible to see the screen in very bright ambient lighting, where this obviously helps, it turns out that even in moderate indoor lighting the image contrast and colors are being noticeably washed out from reflections as well. For example, the Color Gamut is typically reduced by 20 percent even at only 500 lux indoor lighting. To visually compare the difference for yourself, hold two Tablets or Smartphones side-by-side and turn off the displays so you just see the reflections. The iPad Air 2 is dramatically darker than any other existing Tablet or Smartphone. Those reflections are still there when you turn them on, and the brighter the ambient light the brighter the reflections. It’s a major innovation and a big deal with visually obvious benefits!!

Some iPad Air 2 reviews have mentioned not experiencing a noticeable difference in ambient light reflections. Maybe reflections were so bad in the previous model a 56 to 62 percent decrease is still not very good. I look forward to the day when the experience of using smartphones and tablets outside in direct sunlight will be similar to using devices with E Ink displays.

The iPad Air 2 is the first iPad with an optically bonded cover glass – all previous iPad models had high reflectance air gaps under the cover glass – but they are simply catching up because almost all other leading Tablets have had a bonded cover glass without an air gap for years. One minor but noticeable issue is that the screen Reflectance spectrum is heavily weighted towards blue, which is may be noticeable for dark images or in bright ambient light.

This took a while.

However, other than the new anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass, the display on the iPad Air 2 is essentially unchanged and identical in performance to the iPad 4 introduced in 2012, and is actually slightly lower in performance than the original iPad Air (for example 8% lower Brightness and 16% lower display Power Efficiency) – most likely the result of an obsession with producing a thinner Tablet forcing compromises in the LCD backlight.

Much more significant is that the iPad Air 2 does Not have the same high performance display technology enhancements that we measured for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which we rated the best performing Smartphone LCD Display that we have ever tested. While the iPad Air 2 has an all around Very Good Top Tier display, and most buyers will be happy with its performance, the displays on the Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung Tablets that we have tested (see below) have better display performance in Absolute Color Accuracy, Brightness, Contrast Ratio, Viewing Angle, and Power Efficiency. However, the iPad Air 2 matches or breaks new records in Tablet (and Smartphone) display performance for: the most accurate (pure logarithmic power-law) Intensity Scale and Gamma, most accurate Image Contrast, (by far) the Lowest Screen Reflectance, and the Highest Contrast Rating for Ambient Light.

Apple is actively encouraging taking photos with iPads. One of the biggest knock on smartphones using OLED displays have been, not anymore, blown out over-saturated colors. Put it another way, we want and appreciate accurate colors on our photographs. I can understand the iPad Air 2 not being equal to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when it comes to color accuracy, since iPhones are used far more for taking photos than iPads, but for the iPad Air 2 to be less accurate than tablets from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung is disappointing.





Samsung Galaxy Note Edge To Be Mass Produced


MK News (Korean): Samsung will be launching its Galaxy Note Edge smartphone on October 28 on SK Telecom, and on KT and LG U+ starting November. The number of Galaxy Note Edge production will equal that of the Galaxy Note 4. As to whether the Galaxy Note Edge will be made outside of South Korea is unknown.





Gus, A Boy With Autism, Has Siri As His Sidekick


Judith Newman, The New York Times:

She is also wonderful for someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues: Siri’s responses are not entirely predictable, but they are predictably kind — even when Gus is brusque. I heard him talking to Siri about music, and Siri offered some suggestions. “I don’t like that kind of music,” Gus snapped. Siri replied, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Siri’s politeness reminded Gus what he owed Siri. “Thank you for that music, though,” Gus said. Siri replied, “You don’t need to thank me.” “Oh, yes,” Gus added emphatically, “I do.”

This is a beautiful story about her 13-year-old autistic son’s relationship with Siri.





Eric Schmidt: Tim Cook Is Wrong About Google


Logan Whiteside, CNN:

“But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy,” Cook said on Apple’s newly updated privacy website.

Schmidt fired back against Cook, saying Google works extremely hard to protect its users’ information from other companies, the government, and hackers. He also noted customers have the option to change their settings and share less.

“Someone didn’t brief him correctly on Google’s policies,” Schmidt said. “It’s unfortunate for him.”

Google, of course, needs to work incredibly hard to protect its users’ information because the company has an enormous amount of sensitive user information to protect. And Google customers cannot change settings so we share nothing with Google, just less. Apple, on the other hand, is not in the business of collecting user information. Cook was explaining that Apple and Google have different business models. Schmidt responded by explaining Google works hard to protect customer information the company collects.

Schmidt’s response reminds me of an old Chinese saying: 東問西答, which literally means ask east, answer west. Figuratively it means, “What?!?





Apple: Roller Coaster September 2014


Forbes: There were ups: iPhone 6 & 6 Plus sales, and iOS 8 penetration. And downs:

One more down. I wrote in iOS 8: iPhone 4s:

Yesterday I updated my iPhone 4s to iOS 8, and yes there is a negative impact to performance. Not surprising. But what is surprising is that my iPhone 4s is more than usable.

The iPhone 4s with iOS 8 is usable, yes. But the performance impact is significant enough that perhaps sticking with iOS 7 might be a good idea for those of us who do not need or want the iOS 8 bells and whistles. If you have an iPhone 4s in all likelihood you are not someone who is into the latest and greatest tech stuff. The security feature where the passcode encrypts the data on your iPhones is in my opinion one of the most important in iOS 8. If that is important to you, I would recommend upgrading to the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s is quite a bit more affordable than the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and runs iOS 8 without any performance hits at all.





Consumer Reports: Smartphone Bend Test


Consumer Reports: At what force do smartphones deform? Here are the answers (in pounds):

In his interview with Charlie Rose, Tim Cook boasted, “It’s never been about just making a larger phone… it’s been about making a better phone in every single way.” I realize heads of companies exaggerate, bend the truth a little, in the name of marketing. I also realize I am being a bit picky, but the Consumer Reports bend test shows the iPhone 5 — I assume the iPhone 5s will have similar results — can withstand up to almost twice as much force than the iPhone 6 before it deforms. I do not think anyone would consider that better.

Read The Blind Pursuit Of Thinness for more of my thoughts on why it was a mistake to make the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so thin.





Samsung Galaxy Alpha: The Blue-Green Horror Returns


Vlad Savov, The Verge:

The contraction to a 4.7-inch screen size is a total boon for the Galaxy Alpha’s usability, but its display isn’t all good news. I’m not worried about the 720p resolution, which is perfectly adequate at this size. The viewing angles are also not a problem, as you’d expect from an AMOLED display, plus the Galaxy Alpha is among the most readable phones I’ve used outdoors. It outdoes both the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact in those performance measurements, but it collapses when it comes to color accuracy. That old familiar blue-green tinge that was the bane of earlier AMOLED displays has returned, and even though the Alpha’s screen uses the same Diamond Pentile subpixel arrangement as on its more senior Galaxy Note and Galaxy S brethren, it’s noticeably worse. The background of the Twitter Android app is supposed to be white instead of baby blue, right?

[…] Samsung offers a variety of screen color modes, but none of them neutralize the bluish shift in tone. It’s not an absolute tragedy, and it’s something I didn’t immediately notice in my first time using the Galaxy Alpha, but this kind of improper color reproduction starts to wear on you over time. Particularly if there’s someone nearby with a true high-quality display on their phone. It’s disappointing to see Samsung trip up on the display front, which is at least as important, if not more, as the physical design of the handset.

Weird; perhaps a different team was responsible for this particular OLED display used in the Galaxy Alpha? The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was just awarded the best smartphone display by Raymond Soneira.





Australia: National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014


The Sydney Morning Herald: The Senate in Australia voted 44 to 12 on September 25 and passed the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill. Here are some factoids:

I am guessing the NSA will be quite happy with the results.





iPhone 6: Torture Test


What is the worst case scenario for torturing an iPhone 6 Plus? Josh Lowensohn, The Verge:

There’s a test for when people sit on a soft surface, when the iPhone is sat on, as well as what Apple considers the “worst-case scenario,” which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface – at an angle.

And that is what some of us do. Accidents happen, and it is a normal part of life. If you have bent your iPhone 6 Plus Phil Schiller recommends you go to the Genius Bar.





FBI Director James Comey: Thoughts on Encryption


Igor Bobic and Ryan J. Reilly, The Huffington Post:

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Last week Apple announced your passcode in iOS 8 encrypts data on your iOS device, and Apple has no way to comply to government requests for personal data on your iOS device. I do not want to make blanket statements about the FBI — the FBI employs a couple of my friends — but it seems Comey believes making it difficult to gain access to personal information on your mobile device is somehow above the law. I am not aware of any laws that make it illegal to encrypt your personal data on your phone.

The only way to access personal data on an iOS device is to acquire the iOS device and figure out the passcode on it. That figuring out the passcode part is what the FBI needs to work on. Fortunately for the FBI as more and more people use their fingerprints as passcodes, it will not be too difficult to unlock TouchID-locked iOS devices. Most suspects are fingerprinted, right? Of course shrewd villains will turn off their iOS devices, which will require the passcode to be typed in upon reboot.

I do not envy the difficult job of protecting the United States and her citizens from threats.





The Blind Pursuit Of Thinness


Vlad Savov, The Verge:

This would all be quite innocuous if thinness was just an extra layer of custard smothered atop your technology cake, but it all too often comes at a price. Small batteries and compromised cameras are the first victims of the desire for a thinner phone. Or, if the camera doesn’t stink, it’s because it actually protrudes out from the phone’s body, as you’ll find in Samsung’s 6.7mm Galaxy Alpha and Apple’s new iPhones, both hovering at just around 7mm. I’ll let you in on a carefully guarded secret: there’s no real difference between 7mm and 10mm, let alone between 6.7mm and 6.9mm. If only Samsung and Apple could have let their belts out a little, we could now be looking at devices with more cohesive, bulge-free designs and potentially more generous batteries to boot. And let’s face it, an iPhone 6 Plus that was a little thicker on aluminum might not have had to deal with the present controversy about how bendy it is.

I have said this a couple of times before regarding the camera lens bulge on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and I will say it again: Apple made the wrong design choice. The iPhone 5s was thin enough. I understand the iPhone 6 Plus might need to be a bit thinner since the it has a considerably larger mass than the iPhone 5s, but not so thin as to require the camera lens to bulge out.

There is no front and back symmetry. The verbiage on Apple.com and product showcase videos hail the seamless integration between display and the chassis. It seems there was a lot of work that went into that. But what happened to the back? This design choice reminds me of cars with decent fronts but with ugly backs. A particular generation of the Toyota Camry comes to mind: decent front, absolute ugliness in the back. Whoever made the decision to make the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus thinner to the point of having the camera lens bulge out of their seamless unibody needs to rethink priorities. Thin is good, but thin causing lenses to bulge out is not. The camera lens bulge on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is bad design.

A thicker chassis would have made the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus more rigid. If thin was the most important priority, Apple should have developed a stronger less-maleable aluminum alloy to compensate for the thinner design.

With a thicker body, an all-day battery could have been. Can you imagine toward the end of the day not having to worry about charging your iPhone? Can you imagine not having those moments when you are wondering if your iPhone will last through an after work dinner gathering? How about those moments when you are thinking whether or not you should ask the waitress where the nearest power outlet is? Today, in 2014, there are many more important things to people who depend on their smartphones all day long than it being a few tenths of a millimeter thinner. Battery life is one of them.

Let me spell it out for you Apple design people: we do not want or need an iPhone to be thinner. We do not need it to be lighter either. We do not want the camera lens to bulge out. We do not want our iPhones to bend when we accidentally sit with the iPhone in our pant pockets. Here are some things we do want:

Work on these things. You guys have two years to make the iPhone 7 better than the iPhone 6. And just in case, for good measure: you do not need to make it thinner.





iPhone 6 Plus: Bend Test


Using a four-point bend fixture one hundred pounds of force was applied to the center of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, and the iPhone 5s. How much did they bend? Here are the results:

Conclusion? The Galaxy Note 3 is made of plastic, so it bent more, but rebounded to its original shape. The iPhone 6 Plus, because it is made of aluminum, did not rebound and stayed bent. And is more prone to bending than the iPhone 5s.





VIZIO P-Series


VIZIO: The P-Series 4K UHD LCD TVs from VIZIO sport a lot of fancy-sounding features:

Prices (US$, a penny less than):

Nice.





iPhone 6: Camera Review by Lisa Bettany


Lisa Bettany:

Even though they share the same 8-megapixel CMOS sensor and five-element f/2.2 lens, after a few days of shooting with the iPhone 6, I can say that it is better than the iPhone 5S. With Apple’s new Focus pixels sensor feature and advancements made in noise reduction algorithms and local tone mapping, I do see significant improvements to low light and details in shadowed areas.

Looking forward to Bettany’s iPhone 6 Plus camera review.





iPhone 6 Plus: Most Durable 5-Inch Plus Phone


Nathan Olivarez-Giles, The Wall Street Journal:

Having put the new iPhones through its gauntlet of durability tests this weekend, SquareTrade found that the iPhone 6 holds up impressively well in drops, spills and slips — despite the fact that the new, thinner iPhones are tougher to hold onto given their smooth edges and bigger screens.

The iPhone 6 Plus fared well, too, managing to beat out Samsung’s Galaxy S5 as “the most durable phone with a screen larger than five inches.” This comes as a surprise, and not only because the Galaxy S5 is known for its waterproofing, but also because hundreds have already taken to Twitter to gripe that an iPhone 6 purchase means a case purchase, too.

If I were to purchase an iPhone 6 or a 6 Plus I would definitely get a case. For two reasons: one is the ugly toyish-looking antenna bands, and the other is for insurance, just in case I have it in my pants and sit on it. It would not be a leather case or a thin plastic case; it would be one of those foam-polycarbonate-metal-constructed rugged cases. John Gruber on the iPhone 6 Plus getting bent:

I cannot believe that this “bent iPhone 6 Plus” thing is becoming a thing. […] If you feel pressure like this on your iPhone 6 in your pocket, you need looser pants. And if you put your phone in your back pocket and sit on it, I’m not sure what to tell you.

I think it unreasonable to assume no one will ever sit down with an iPhone 6 Plus in her front or back pocket. We all make mistakes, but this kind of ‘mistake’ should not lead to a bent phone. You are wearing the wrong type of pants? I think the more accurate assessment would be: Apple needs to make the iPhone 6 Plus more resilient to being bent inside pockets.

In the meantime perhaps the UnderTech Undercover Woman’s Concealment Short Shorts (takes you to Amazon.com) can be modified to carry an iPhone 6 Plus.





iOS: In-App Browsers Can Keylog


Craig Hockenberry:

How many apps on your iPhone or iPad have a built-in browser?

Would it surprise you to know that every one of those apps could eavesdrop on your typing? Even when it’s in a secure login screen with a password field?

[…]

You should never enter any private information while you’re using an app that’s not Safari.

An in-app browser is a great tool for quickly viewing web content, especially for things like links in Twitterrific’s timeline. But if you should always open a link in Safari if you have any concern that your information might be collected. Safari is the only app on iOS that comes with Apple’s guarantee of security.





iPhone 6 & 6 Plus: iOS 8.0.1


Image source: Oakridge Economics Group 4

The Verge: Apple released iOS 8.0.1 today for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Do not update. Why?

If you already updated, iMore has a fix.

A few cracks I have noticed recently: iPhone 6 Plus supply far short of demand (supply chain management fail, forecasting fail, or marketing ramming its schedule down the throats of SCM folks at Apple), iPhone 6 Plus getting bent out of shape (external design folks flexing its muscle over structural integrity engineers), and a botched patch (iOS software folks simply failing to test thoroughly).





BlackBerry Passport: Review by The Verge


Dan Seifert, The Verge:

The Passport’s awkward dimensions are to accommodate its square display. It’s a high-resolution, 4.5-inch, 1,440 x 1,440 pixel IPS LCD with a dense 453PPI. It looks great: viewing angles are tremendous, colors are accurate, and pixels are invisible to my eyes. BlackBerry designed this display for reading and you can see a lot of stuff on it.

It’s a very purpose-built screen for doing business-y things like reviewing spreadsheets and slide presentations. But that makes it not very good at many of the other things that we use our smartphones for today. It’s much easier to navigate a spreadsheet or browse a webpage with the Passport, but reading my Twitter feed requires a lot of scrolling, and videos have annoying black bars eating up half of the display above and below the content.

BlackBerry is targeting hardcore business folks with the Passport. The name Passport is superb, and gets an A+ in marketing (unlike the Moto 360, which I gave an F). The name Passport makes me think of business people who travel a lot. And as the review pointed out the Passport features the same height and width as a real passport. That is smart. Having a smartphone the same size as another important tool provides familiarity. I am certain someone will design a case that perfectly fits both a passport and the Passport. How convenient would that be for the target audience who will have both with them most of the time anyway.

The square display is unusual, but it is purpose driven: it lets the business person read, review spreadsheets and presentations. Companies do not want their workers to waste time, using up expensive data, on company-issued devices watching videos on YouTube. Black bars on 16:9 videos? These ladies and gentlemen probably do not care; they will be watching movies on the large displays in their business class cabins.

I do not think BlackBerry with its Passport smartphone is targeting regular iPhone and Android folks; the company is laser focused on business people who want to get stuff done. And for that purpose the Passport seems supremely capable. Now, if only BlackBerry would realize the world of business requires the ability to communicate — as in type — in multiple languages…





Vlad Savov: My Reviews Are Biased


The definition of the word ‘biased’ according to the dictionary app on my Mac:

unfairly prejudiced for or against someone or something

Vlad Savov:

As exciting and fun as my work often is, however, it can also prove dispiriting and exasperating when I’m accused of being biased. Of course I’m biased, that’s the whole point. We all have preferences and partialities that accrue over our lifetimes and become embedded in our judgment of anything new.

I do not think you want to be biased, because being biased means you are unfair and prejudiced. And just to be certain we are talking about the same thing, according to the same dictionary, prejudice is defined as:

preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience

Being biased, unfair, prejudiced… all are things we do not want to be. I believe Savov does not want to be characterized as being those things either. Savov made an error: incorrectly thinking being biased is the same thing as having a preference. We all have preferences, but we are not all biased.





   
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