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Apple Sept. 2019 announcements

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Is there an option to switch off “always on”?
Apparently, yes.
Engadget said:
Apple Watch Series 5 first look
Fortunately, if you feel as I do, an Apple spokesperson confirms that it is possible to disable the always-on feature.
How, and in which mode, will probably have to wait for more reviews or some documentation from Apple — e.g. a "battery saver mode" vs "switch to raise to wake" — the first might disable other things. The second would put things back to the 'legacy' mode of previous watches.
 


The counter-explanation is Gruber's theory that the OLED displays can't be made in the quantities required to be used on the most popular phone. Apple purposefully raised the price on the OLED models to depress demand to a point where manufacturing was feasible.
I don’t buy this. Consider that Apple is paying Samsung over $600M in penalties for not hitting the minimum OLED purchase volume they agreed on. Apparently, the factory built for making only Apple screens has been running at 50% capacity!


Apple used both company's modems in the iPhone 8, which remains on sale. It is possible in the months since Apple and Qualcomm buried their legal hatchets in April ...
I’m not sure I’d say they buried the hatchet so much as Apple gave in to Qualcomm’s extortion after secretly arranging to buy Intel’s technology. Their aim is obvious: remove their technological dependency on Qualcomm, but pay the racketeer until they are in a position to change the legal arrangement.

I suspect we are two years out from Qualcomm-free iPhones, at which point we will see Apple try to break Qualcomm’s patent stranglehold again.

Should be interesting to watch.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Plus, you get the bonus of the vaunted OLED display....
Oh, cool, what a bonus! If you tilt the OLED screen (iPhone X) even slightly, it color-shifts! (Double-checked against iPhone 7 — nope, this doesn't happen with the non-OLED screen.) Not fun!

I guess I missed that part of the memo....
Apple Support said:
About the Super Retina display on your iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max
... If you look at an OLED display off-angle, you might notice slight shifts in color and hue. This is a characteristic of OLED and is normal behavior.
Oh, well, vertigo aside, OLED probably provides better battery life.

Then again, maybe not...
CNet said:
iPhone battery life in 2017: X is not on top
The results, after repeated testing, are finally in. Out of this year's iPhones, the 8 Plus has the best battery life. The iPhone X, however, had the worst.
 


I don’t have the cellular version, and the specs you posted seem to correlate with my experience. My bike trips often have 3-5 hours of riding, but that’s not the only thing I’m doing, such as stopping for coffee or lunch - which means I’m using the watch for at least another hour or more, easily.
I don't know if you consult your watch while biking, but FWIW: Whenever I work out I keep my phone in "theatre mode" and (when using the apple Workout app I also chose "lock") This means I have to poke it to see it. This is so that random shaking about, and brushing against it isn't interpreted as wrist flicks. I have just assumed that lighting up the display is expensive.

I'm still on an original ("series 0") as it does pretty much everything I want but as its battery is now worn out enough, and an interesting new feature has arrived (always-on), I'm considering upgrading to the 5.
 


I would hazard that the Series 5 might be the last year for the existing watch case size, as the faster modem chips for 5G will most likely require more space and battery capacity. I am upgrading from a Series 4 aluminum 44mm to a Series 5 aluminum 44mm, so I can reuse the stainless steel Milanese bracelet I have had since Series 3. I plan to use the screen-off mode, like on my Series 4 as the default setting to get more battery life from the Series 5.
 


Just an anecdote from the weekend: I was at a party and (being bored, as I'm not a party person) started playing with my iPhone SE. I often turn WiFi off when I'm out, as I get fed up with pop-ups showing all the locked access points near me and blocking my screen. Then, as a rule, I will run Speedtest to see what the local network will deliver. As a rule, I will get 15 to 18 Mbps down and between 4 and 5 Mbps up. Ping can be anywhere.

Imagine my shock when I got a download speed over LTE (EE in London, connecting to Spitfire Networks) of 91.5 Mbps and an up of 28.5 Mbps.

Using LTE in my house to the same server gave 18.0 and 3.68 Mbps respectively. Those latter speeds are, nevertheless, better than some of my clients get over their broadband!

As an aside, we were in our local Apple Store yesterday getting the wife's iPhone 6 looked at (bad audio and intermittent microphone, which turned out to be muck and fluff in the earpiece/ front mic area). While we were packing up, I mentioned to the Genius who dealt with us that I was disappointed that there wasn't a new SE in the phone line-up. He responded with "I think we may see something soon." Was that just wishful thinking on his part? Or...
 


I would hazard that the Series 5 might be the last year for the existing watch case size, as the faster modem chips for 5G will most likely require more space and battery capacity.
I can't think of anything in an Apple Watch that would be meaningfully improved by the supposed benefits of 5G — streaming movies in 8K? (And that's without getting into the wildly over-hyped aspects of 5G.)
 


A friend of mine, who is a huge Apple fan, had to buy a Garmin watch instead of an Apple Watch, because Apple Watch battery life was too short for his triathlons/training.
My gripe about the Apple Watch as a fitness monitoring device is that it cannot transmit real-time heart rate data to bicycle computers. That used to be impossible without having ANT+ protocol built in, but my feeble understanding of all that is that now smart bluetooth can substitute. But I guess there are issues in how the Apple Watch can pair to devices other than the iPhone.
 


The issue re inherent conflict with content owners vs. distributors is what my fellow students and I debated back in 2001. We couldn’t see how Netflix would survive in the long term, once they proved the market; big content owners would surely attempt to disintermediate them. And so they did.
Maybe a lawsuit similar to the 1948 one that broke up the film distribution system at the time would be appropriate?


United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 U.S. 131 (1948), (also known as the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948, the Paramount Case, the Paramount Decision or the Paramount Decree) was a landmark United States Supreme Court antitrust case that decided the fate of movie studios owning their own theatres and holding exclusivity rights on which theatres would show their films. It would also change the way Hollywood movies were produced, distributed, and exhibited. The Supreme Court affirmed (a District Court's ruling) in this case that the existing distribution scheme was in violation of the antitrust laws of the United States, which prohibit certain exclusive dealing arrangements.
 


Just an anecdote from the weekend: I was at a party and (being bored, as I'm not a party person) started playing with my iPhone SE. I often turn WiFi off when I'm out, as I get fed up with pop-ups showing all the locked access points near me and blocking my screen.
Can't this be prevented by switching off "Ask to Join Networks" in the Wi-Fi settings? That is what I have done to avoid the annoyance that you describe.
 


I’m concerned about the large square camera mount on the back of the various iPhone 11’s. Cases will necessarily have a large hole to accommodate them, and damaging the glass or sapphire there seems to be considerably more probable than if the cameras had been aligned in a row or column. I don’t know if I’m overthinking this or not.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
While I would prefer a phone with a Qualcomm radio, my current phone may not last through the likely introductory date next year, now that Apple and Qualcomm seem to have made up.
I didn't see any reference to antennas or cell phone radios in coverage of the new iPhones. Have to wonder if some of those not-so-great Intel wireless modems are still being used?
Great question, and I haven't seen anything about this yet for the iPhone 11 models. The situations to date have been very confusing. Some related links...
... The iPhone X refurbs I'm currently seeing (Model A1865) apparently have Qualcomm modems. It looks like the iPhone 8 Plus refurbs (Model A1864) also have Qualcomm modems.
Here's an answer about iPhone 11 modems:
PC Magazine said:
Confirmed: iPhone 11 Series Phones Have Intel Modems
It looks like the US versions of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max have LTE modems from Intel, according to the devices' field test screens.
This isn't a huge surprise, but it's interesting. We figured this out because the field test menus on Intel-based and Qualcomm-based iPhones have different menu items, and the menu items have stayed consistent through the generations. (I checked on models from the 6s generation up to the XR.)

According to Apple, there is one model of each of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max sold in the US. With one of each device in hand, I went to the field test mode and found that it had an Intel layout.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
More details on the new iPhone 11 photo system:
Halide said:
iPhone 11 Pro Preview: The Camera Hardware Changes
Last year, before the iPhone XS hit the store shelves, we took a look at the changes in camera hardware on the iPhone XS compared to the iPhone X. We can do this thanks to Halide’s Technical Readout feature.

Much like last year, some kind individuals have shared a few technical readouts with us from iPhone 11 Pro (and iPhone 11) units in the wild....

... It’s 2019, and your camera isn’t just a module that takes a photo anymore. Cameras compose images from dozens of exposures, mixing and matching pixels from various frames, changing the output creatively and intelligently to ensure you get an image that looks, ironically, more faithful to what we see. All of this means that with fairly modest changes in hardware (except for the new ISO ranges), the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro appear to deliver one of the biggest leaps in camera quality in iPhones yet.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Lots more tests and details about iPhone 11 and 11 Pro cameras:
Nilay Patel/The Verge said:
Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max review
... Early reports indicate that the iPhone 11 sensor has a higher ISO range and faster possible shutter speeds. But Apple told me that the real improvements are due to a bump from an 8-bit rendering pipeline to 10 bits, and something it calls “semantic rendering,” which is basically an update to Smart HDR that recognizes individual elements of an image and adjusts them appropriately.

From my conversations with Apple, semantic rendering basically goes like this:
  1. The iPhone starts taking photos to a buffer the instant you open the camera app. So by the time you actually press the shutter button, it’s captured four underexposed frames and the photo you want. Then it grabs one overexposed frame. (This is all basically the same as the iPhone XS and the Pixel 3, except the Pixel doesn’t grab that overexposed frame.)
  2. Smart HDR looks for things in the photos it understands: the sky, faces, hair, facial hair, things like that.
  3. Then it uses the additional detail from the underexposed and overexposed frames to selectively process those areas of the image: hair gets sharpened, the sky gets de-noised but not sharpened, faces get relighted to make them look more even, and facial hair gets sharpened up.
  4. Smart HDR is also now less aggressive with highlights and shadows. Highlights on faces aren’t corrected as aggressively as before because those highlights make photos look more natural, but other highlights and shadows are corrected to regain detail.
  5. The whole image gets saved and shows up in your camera roll.
  6. This all happens instantly every time you take a photo.
 


The operation of the Camera app as described above suggests that it’s basically operating like a GoPro, in terms of constantly recording, and the user gets to decide when to take a picture. Presumably, Apple’s engineers came up with a very efficient hardware / software combination to make this somewhat energy-efficient.

As for the Intel 4G modem, as much as I would prefer a similar Qualcomm version, I expect the Intel version to be just fine for my purposes, as I come from a iPhone 6 (albeit with a Qualcomm modem in it). I’ve read rants from other commentators re how much I’m going to miss 5G in 5 years (at the expected end of my iPhone 11’s lifecycle), and I disagree.

Like many Americans, I live in a town where there are very limited high-speed Internet deployments. There is literally just one high-speed provider here, no municipal fiber, and so on. I have no expectation that the current US oligopoly of cell tower owners will come in and spend $$$ to put up lots of 5G pods. They will test, deploy, etc .incrementally from the areas with the highest payback first, just as they always have.

For the next decade, 5G will likely be found only in super-high-density deployments (think conference centers, downtown, etc.) and fixed assets (i.e. Internet gateways for home networks, potentially coupled with large external antennas to boost reception).

The required spending to bring 5G to wider areas is going to be high - certainly not as extreme as fixed fiber to the home, but the deployment costs are expected to be higher than traditional cell towers. As I understand it, 5G coverage requires a lot more nodes to be installed in order to cover the same area.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
And here is an in-depth look at the iPhone 11 camera system (pending an upcoming hands-on review of the shipping product):
DPReview said:
The iPhone 11 is more than just Apple catching up to Android
... Newer, faster processors often mean increased photo and video capability, and the iPhone 11 is no exception. Its image processing pipeline, which handles everything from auto white balance to auto exposure, autofocus, and image 'development', gets some new features: a 10-bit rendering pipeline upgraded from the previous 8-bit one, and the generation of a segmentation mask that isolates human subjects and faces, allowing for 'semantic rendering'.

10-bit rendering should help render high dynamic range images without banding, which could otherwise result from the extreme tone-mapping adjustments required. Semantic rendering allows faces to be processed differently from other portions of the scene, allowing for more intelligent tone mapping and local contrast operations in images with human subjects (for example, faces can look 'crunchy'in high contrast scenes if local contrast is uniformly preserved across the entire image). The end result? More pleasing photos of people....
 


So I bought a new iPhone (8 Plus), as I realized it was $200 less than the 6s Plus I've had for four years (Sept. 2015). But I have yet to open the box.

The visit to a NJ Apple Store (Quakerbridge Mall) was less than stellar. Dozen Apple store workers chatting with each other, and not many customers in the store at 8:30pm, and I'm looking around like "Hey, I want a phone. Ready to buy! Hello?" Finally make eye-contact with a fellow who then tells me, "someone will be right with you", and he approaches two younger fellows who look at me then go back to chatting. Then a fellow comes out (carrying the space gray iPhone 8 box), and we go over sale (no thank you, don't need AppleCare+... no, I know, no, no thank you). Hand credit card and I see it’s $449. Whoa! I stop him but too late: I asked for an iPhone 8 Plus 64GB space gray unlocked. He brought me an 8. Wait another few minutes for correct phone, he charges the $100 more, and I should be off.

But, here is the interesting part: the Apple clerk asks me who is my carrier? I tell him, and he informs me to wait, and he wants to get me a newer SIM card. Apparently, swapping in my older card will result in problems within a few weeks. He says this is a problem lately and said I will need to contact ATT with the new card ICCEI info, etc.

I've yet to open the box. I want to try the wireless migration feature of the latest iOS update but need to get the SIM ready. This isn't easy for me, as I need to backup images (I don't use Photos to sync; I use Preview) and several security apps are tied to the specific phone.

Wish me luck!
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
An interesting possibility:
Twitter said:
Steve Troughton-Smith
Several people have now suggested to me that there may just be an extra 2GB of RAM dedicated to the camera. All of this new photo stuff & Deep Fusion doesn’t come cheap, it seems. I have no way of verifying these details right now, and to the user it wouldn’t be visible anyway
 


So I bought a new iPhone (8 Plus), as I realized it was $200 less than the 6s Plus I've had for four years (Sept. 2015). But I have yet to open the box.
The visit to a NJ Apple Store (Quakerbridge Mall) was less than stellar. Dozen Apple store workers chatting with each other,, and not many customers in the store at 8:30pm, and I'm looking around like "Hey, I want a phone. Ready to buy! Hello?" Finally make eye-contact with a fellow who then tells me, "someone will be right with you", and he approaches two younger fellows who look at me then go back to chatting. Then a fellow comes out (carrying the space gray iPhone 8 box), and we go over sale (no thank you, don't need AppleCare+... no, I know, no, no thank you). Hand credit card and I see it’s $449. Whoa! I stop him but too late: I asked for an iPhone 8 Plus 64GB space gray unlocked. He brought me an 8. Wait another few minutes for correct phone, he charges the $100 more, and I should be off.

But, here is the interesting part: the Apple clerk asks me who is my carrier? I tell him, and he informs me to wait, and he wants to get me a newer SIM card. Apparently, swapping in my older card will result in problems within a few weeks. He says this is a problem lately and said I will need to contact ATT with the new card ICCEI info, etc.

I've yet to open the box. I want to try the wireless migration feature of the latest iOS update but need to get the SIM ready. This isn't easy for me, as I need to backup images (I don't use Photos to sync; I use Preview) and several security apps are tied to the specific phone.
Wish me luck!
After I upgraded my iPhone via a SIM swap, it was initially fine, but later it stopped receiving text (SMS) messages.

The problem turned out to be that the carrier's database still thought I had the older model phone. Once they updated it on their side, it worked again. This implies that how the carrier communicates with the phone is, in at least some respect, device-dependent.

Your Apple Store may be asking you to get a new SIM for this very problem. It isn't that there's anything wrong with the SIM itself; it is just that by getting a new ICCEI ID, you'd perforce be registering as a new device in the carrier's systems.

Or, you could just use the old SIM and then call the carrier and inform them that you have a new model iPhone. That's what I plan to do next time.

(FWIW, the carrier is T-Mobile via Consumer Cellular.)
 


The operation of the Camera app as described above suggests that it’s basically operating like a GoPro, in terms of constantly recording, and the user gets to decide when to take a picture. Presumably, Apple’s engineers came up with a very efficient hardware / software combination to make this somewhat energy-efficient.
Not necessarily. The Camera app is always capturing frames when it is running - that's how you can see the "viewfinder" image on the screen.

The big deal here is that they are capturing and retaining in memory several full-resolution frames, which means extra memory consumption. A 12MP frame is going to require 36MB (at 24-bit color) or 48MB (at 32-bit color). If it is retaining four frames prior to pressing the shutter, then that's up to about 200MB. And then two more frames (after pressing the shutter) to compose the HDR image, and we're looking at about 300MB of input data, plus the output data (another 50MB, perhaps) and however much memory the compositing software requires.

I can see this increasing the RAM requirements on the SoC (maybe main memory, maybe dedicated image-processing memory), but I don't think it should have a major impact on CPU or power consumption.

Well, the compositing hardware/software may draw more power, but the fact that the camera app is always retaining four frames shouldn't matter much.
The required spending to bring 5G to wider areas is going to be high - certainly not as extreme as fixed fiber to the home, but the deployment costs are expected to be higher than traditional cell towers. As I understand it, 5G coverage requires a lot more nodes to be installed in order to cover the same area.
Depends on who you ask and what they think "5G" actually is.

Ignoring marketing nonsense (like AT&T rebranding LTE-Advanced as 5G), the 3GPP standards define a large grab-bag of technologies that all fall under the "5G" or "5G-NR" (New Radio) moniker, some of which (like more efficient data encoding on the radio signals) shouldn't cost any more to deploy than 4G. Others (like use of mmWave spectrum) will cost a lot more, because there will need to be a very large quantity of new cell sites and infrastructure to support them.

I highly doubt you're going to see mmWave deployments outside of dense populations, because it is for the most part a short-range protocol and would never be cost-effective in areas of sparse populations (like rural areas outside of town centers). But I fully expect to see other aspects of 5G deployed everywhere over the next few years, much like 4G-LTE was. And yes, the big population centers first - you need large numbers of paying customers to pay off the R&D costs before you can deploy to areas with fewer customers.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The operation of the Camera app as described above suggests that it’s basically operating like a GoPro, in terms of constantly recording, and the user gets to decide when to take a picture. Presumably, Apple’s engineers came up with a very efficient hardware / software combination to make this somewhat energy-efficient.
It's only recording while the Camera app is running, so that probably doesn't impact overall battery drain too much.
 


It's only recording while the Camera app is running, so that probably doesn't impact overall battery drain too much.
As David points out above, the camera viewfinder requires some nominal sampling rate to function. My point was more to the number of camera sensors operating concurrently to provide all the pictures. Instead of taking 1 picture every 1/30th of a second or so to keep the viewfinder happy, the camera may be taking 9.

All those pics will have to be written to RAM until the magic moment that the user presses the record button, at which time the RAM contents are fused into one. That’s a lot more data to be pushed around than the 12MP sensor implies by itself.

Never mind the “mad science” of stitching those images together afterwards, dealing with issues such as parallax error and so on. This type of post-processing (esp. with a 10-bit vs. an 8-bit pipeline) is non-trivial, esp. in a small embedded application like this one, with a limited battery budget and the consumer expectation that lots of pics can be taken quickly.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here are some notes about moving to a new iPhone (which would involve moving an Apple Watch, as well):
Apple Support said:
Transfer data from your previous iOS device to your new iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
Before you begin
Next, select one of these transfer methods.

Quick Start: Use your iPhone or iPad that's already running iOS 11 or later to automatically set up a new device.

iCloud: Transfer your data and purchased content to your new device from your previous device's iCloud backup.

iTunes: Transfer your data and purchased content to your new device from a backup you made with iTunes.
Apple Support said:
Back up your Apple Watch
Apple Watch content backs up automatically to your companion iPhone, so you can restore your Apple Watch from a backup. When you back up your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes, your iPhone backup will also include your Apple Watch data.

... When you unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone, your iPhone automatically creates a backup of your Apple Watch. Unpairing will erase all data from your Apple Watch. If your Apple Watch is unpaired while out of range of your iPhone, the backup might not have the latest data. When you're ready, you can pair your Apple Watch again and set it up from a backup.
 


The folks at iFixit had a livestream video earlier today tearing down an iPhone 11 Pro. The video is now available for watching.
iFixit said:
iPhone 11 Pro Teardown Live [YouTube]
It’s our favorite day of the year: iPhone Teardown day! Today, we are live-streaming our first disassembly of the iPhone 11 Pro. Join Kay Kay Clapp, iFixit’s Director of Things, and Sam Goldheart, iFixit’s Lead Teardown Engineer, as they dig into Apple’s latest iPhone. What amazing things will they find? Hints of bilateral charging? A weird battery? What if there is some reverse-engineered alien technology? There’s only one way for you to find out and that’s to watch the stream.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Can I dispense with a case? That would be a nice, simplifying improvement.
You could... but it might not be so "simplifying" if you drop it on pavement...
Like Mark Spoonauer did...
Tom’s Guide said:
iPhone 11 Pro Drop Test: We Have Bad News
We have bad news. Apple claims that the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have the "toughest glass ever in a smartphone," but our drop tests don't exactly back that up.

Why? Because our $999 iPhone 11 Pro cracked on the very first drop on a sidewalk from hip height....
 


The folks at iFixit have finally finished their teardown analysis of the iPhone 11 Pro Max and have made the findings available on their web site.
iFixit said:
iPhone 11 Pro Max Teardown
...
Final Thoughts

  • Critical display and battery repairs remain a priority in the iPhone's design.
  • The battery procedure has been simplified and many components are accessible independently.
  • Liberal use of screws is preferable to glue—but you'll have to bring your Apple-specific drivers (pentalobe, tri-point, and standoff) in addition to a standard Phillips.
  • Waterproofing measures complicate some repairs, but make difficult water damage repairs less likely.
  • Glass on front and back doubles the likelihood of drop damage—and if the back glass breaks, you'll be removing every component and replacing the entire chassis.
Repairability 6 out of 10
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The folks at iFixit have finally finished their teardown analysis of the iPhone 11 Pro Max and have made the findings available on their web site....
I was looking especially for information about possible extra, dedicated camera memory – here's what they said:
iFixit said:
iPhone 11 Pro Max Teardown
  • A much bigger battery made possible by bumping the body .4 mm and winning .25 mm from 3D Touch.
  • Two battery cables that may have helped Apple's allegedly-scrapped bilateral charging out—but could just as easily help manage battery life.
  • A very non-definitive "4 GB confirmed" rating, given our inability to find dedicated camera RAM.
  • Plus, some RF antennas (we're pretty sure), all the better for the U1 to seek with.
 


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