Review: Apple’s iPhone XR is a fine young cannibal

This iPhone is great. It is most like the last iPhone — but not the last “best” iPhone — more like the last not as good iPhone. It’s better than that one though, just not as good as the newest best iPhone or the older best iPhone.

If you’re upgrading from an iPhone 7 or iPhone 8, you’re gonna love it and likely won’t miss any current features while also getting a nice update to a gesture-driven phone with Face ID. But don’t buy it if you’re coming from an iPhone X, you’ll be disappointed as there are some compromises from the incredibly high level of performance and quality in Apple’s last flagship, which really was pushing the envelope at the time.

From a consumer perspective, this is offering a bit of choice that targets the same kind of customer who bought the iPhone 8 instead of the iPhone X

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Google’s latest hardware innovation: Price

With its latest consumer hardware products, Google’s prices are undercutting Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. The search giant just unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, tablet, and smart home device and all available at prices well below their direct competitors. Where Apple and Samsung are pushing prices of its latest products even higher, Google is seemingly happy to keep prices low and this is creating a distinct advantage for the company’s products.

Google, like Amazon and nearly Apple, is a services company that happens to sell hardware. It needs to acquire users through multiple verticals including hardware. Somewhere, deep in the Googleplex, a team of number crunchers decided it made more sense to make its hardware prices dramatically lower than competitors. If Google is taking a loss on the hardware, it is likely making it back through services.

Amazon does this with Kindle devices. Microsoft and Sony do it with game consoles.

more Google Event 2018 coverage
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Happy 10th anniversary, Android

It’s been 10 years since Google took the wraps off the G1, the first Android phone. Since that time the OS has grown from buggy, nerdy iPhone alternative to arguably the most popular (or at least populous) computing platform in the world. But it sure as heck didn’t get there without hitting a few bumps along the road.

Join us for a brief retrospective on the last decade of Android devices: the good, the bad, and the Nexus Q.

HTC G1 (2008)

This is the one that started it all, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the old thing. Also known as the HTC Dream — this was back when we had an HTC, you see — the G1 was about as inauspicious a debut as you can imagine. Its full keyboard, trackball, slightly janky slide-up screen (crooked even in official photos), and considerable

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iOS 12.1 beta hints at new iPad Pro

iOS 12 is still brand new, but Apple is already testing iOS 12.1 with a developer beta version. Steve Troughton-Smith and Guilherme Rambo found references to a brand new iPad that would support Face ID.

First, there are changes to Face ID. You can find references to landscape orientation in the iOS 12.1 beta. Face ID on the iPhone is limited to portrait orientation. Chances are you didn’t even notice this limitation because there’s only one orientation for the lock screen and home screen.

But the iPad is a different story as people tend to use it in landscape. And even when you hold it in landscape, some people will have the home button on the left while others will have the home button on the right.

In other words, in order to bring Face ID to the iPad, it needs to support multiple orientations. This beta Continue reading "iOS 12.1 beta hints at new iPad Pro"

Scientists make a touch tablet that rolls and scrolls

Research scientists at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab have built a prototype touchscreen device that’s neither smartphone nor tablet but kind of both — and more besides. The device, which they’ve christened the MagicScroll, is inspired by ancient (papyrus/paper/parchment) scrolls so it takes a rolled-up, cylindrical form factor — enabled by a flexible 7.5inch touchscreen housed in the casing.

This novel form factor, which they made using 3D printing, means the device can be used like an erstwhile rolodex (remember those?!) for flipping through on-screen contacts quickly by turning a physical rotary wheel built into the edge of the device. (They’ve actually added one on each end.)

Then, when more information or a deeper dive is required, the user is able to pop the screen out of the casing to expand the visible display real estate. The flexible screen on the prototype has a resolution of Continue reading "Scientists make a touch tablet that rolls and scrolls"

Apple releases new iPad, FaceID ads

Apple has released a handful of new ads promoting the iPad’s portability and convenience over both laptops and traditional paper solutions. The 15-second ads focus on how the iPad can make even the most tedious things — travel, notes, paperwork, and ‘stuff’ — just a bit easier.

Three out of the four spots show the sixth-generation iPad, which was revealed at Apple’s education event in March, and which offers a lower-cost ($329 in the U.S.) option with Pencil support.

The ads were released on Apple’s international YouTube channels (UAE, Singapore, and United Kingdom).

This follows another 90-second ad released yesterday, focusing on FaceID. The commercial shows a man in a gameshow-type setting asked to remember the banking password he created earlier that morning. He struggles for an excruciating amount of time before realizing he can access the banking app via FaceID.

There has been some Continue reading "Apple releases new iPad, FaceID ads"

Apple’s Shortcuts will flip the switch on Siri’s potential

At WWDC, Apple pitched Shortcuts as a way to ”take advantage of the power of apps” and “expose quick actions to Siri.” These will be suggested by the OS, can be given unique voice commands and will even be customizable with a dedicated Shortcuts app.

But because this new feature won’t let Siri interpret everything, many have been lamenting that Siri didn’t get much better — and is still lacking compared to Google Assistant or Amazon Echo.

But to ignore Shortcuts would be missing out on the bigger picture. Apple’s strengths have always been the device ecosystem and the apps that run on them.

With Shortcuts, both play a major role in how Siri

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Apple is rebuilding Maps from the ground up

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the launch of Apple Maps went poorly. After a rough first impression, an apology from the CEO, several years of patching holes with data partnerships and some glimmers of light with long-awaited transit directions and improvements in business, parking and place data, Apple Maps is still not where it needs to be to be considered a world-class service.

Maps needs fixing.

Apple, it turns out, is aware of this, so it’s re-building the maps part of Maps.

It’s doing this by using first-party data gathered by iPhones with a privacy-first methodology and its own fleet of cars packed with sensors and cameras. The new product will launch in San Francisco and the Bay Area with the next iOS 12 beta and will cover Northern California by fall.

Every version of iOS will get the updated maps eventually, and they will

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Bannersnack makes it easy to punch the monkey (and more)

An app like Bannersnack is something you never think you need — until you do. Designed by a digital marketer from Romania, Gabriel Ciordas, the app was originally called FlashEff and was used to create Flash banners for online marketers. Over time, however, HTML5 and graphics overtook Flash and the company pivoted to offering easy-to-use design tools for marketers and business owners.

The service is free to try and costs $7 a month 30 static images; $18 a month gets you embedded banners with full analytics. The company is completely bootstrapped and has been working in the space since 2008.

“Bannersnack has always been self-funded. We built our resources step by step, as our business grew together with our efforts. We think it’s fair to say that we worked for every penny we’ve ever gotten and further invested it back into growing our business,” said Ciordas.

The service has 100,000

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Bag Week 2018: WP Standard’s Rucksack goes the distance

WP Standard – formerly called Whipping Post Leather – makes rugged leather bags, totes, and briefcases and their Rucksack is one of my favorites. Designed to look like something a Pony Express rider would slip on for a visit to town, this $275 is sturdy, handsome, and ages surprisingly well.

There are some trade-offs, however. Except for two small front pouches there are no hidden nooks and crannies in this spare 15×15 inch sack. The main compartment can fit a laptop and a few notebooks and the front pouches can hold accessories like mice or a little collection of plugs. There is no fancy nylon mesh or gear organizers here, just a brown expanse of full grain leather.

I wore this backpack for a few months before writing this and found it surprisingly comfortable and great for travel. Because it is so simple I forced myself to pare down my

bag week 2018
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With iOS 12, Apple focuses on performance

Apple’s Craig Federighi announced that Apple was doubling down on performance with the upcoming release of iOS 12 at the WWDC event in San Jose, Calif. today.

What’s more, he said, the company would be making these changes to the full range of iOS devices going back to 2013. “And so for iOS 12, we are doubling down on performance from top to bottom making improvements to make your device faster and more responsive. And because we want these changes to be available the full range of our customers, iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices as iOS 11,” Federighi told the WWDC audience.

Perhaps because customers were unhappy to learn about the battery issues with older iOS devices Federighi stressed that Apple has focussed these performance increases on older devices, giving people with older iPhones, the maximum lift. Using the iPhone 6 as an example, he gave some

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How to watch the live stream for today’s Apple WWDC keynote

Apple is holding a keynote today at the San Jose Convention Center, and the company is expected to unveil new updates for iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS and maybe also some new hardware. At 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris), you’ll be able to watch the event as the company is streaming it live.

Apple is likely to talk about some new features for all its software platforms — WWDC is a developer conference after all. Rumor has it that Apple could also unveil some MacBook Pro update with new Intel processors.

If you have the most recent Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old events. Users with old Apple TVs can simply turn on their devices. Apple is pushing out the “Apple Events” channel so Continue reading "How to watch the live stream for today’s Apple WWDC keynote"

Leaked iPhone pics show glass back and headphone jack

The headphone jack could still have a future in an iPhone. These leaked pics show an iPhone SE 2 with a glass back and headphone jack. Like the current iPhone SE, the design seems to be a take on the classic iPhone 5. I dig it.

The leak also states the upcoming device sports wireless charging, which puts it in line with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Rumors have long stated that Apple was working on an updated iPhone SE. The original was released in March 16 and updated a year later with improved specs. With a 4-inch screen, the iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone Apple offers and also the cheapest.

WWDC in early June is the next major Apple event and could play host for the launch of this phone. Last month, around the iPhone SE’s birthday, Apple held a special event in a Chicago school to Continue reading "Leaked iPhone pics show glass back and headphone jack"

Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro will be shaped by workflows

A year ago, I visited the Apple campus in Cupertino to figure out where the hell the new Mac Pro was. I joined a round-table discussion with Apple SVPs and a handful of reporters to get the skinny on what was taking so long.

The answer, it turns out, was that Apple had decided to start completely over with the Mac Pro, introduce completely new pro products like the iMac Pro and refresh the entire MacBook Pro lineup. The reasoning given at the time on the Mac Pro was basically that Apple had painted itself into an architecture corner by being aggressively original on the design of the bullet/turbine/trash-can shaped casing and internal components of the current Mac Pro. There was nothing to be done but start over.

The secondary objective to that visit was to reassure pro customers who had not had news of updates in some time that

Continue reading "Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro will be shaped by workflows"

What Apple’s education announcements mean for accessibility

From an accessibility news standpoint, this week’s Apple event in Chicago was antithetical to the October 2016 event. At the latter event, Apple began the presentation with a bang — showing the actual video being edited using Switch Control in Final Cut. Tim Cook came out afterwards to talk some about Apple’s commitment to serving the disabled community before unveiling the then-new accessibility page on the company’s website.

By contrast, the education-themed event in Chicago this week went by with barely a mention of accessibility. The only specific call-out came during Greg Joswiak’s time on stage talking about iPad, when he said “accessibility features make iPad a learning tool Continue reading "What Apple’s education announcements mean for accessibility"

Google Assistant arrives on iPad

Google Assistant is launching today on iPad, allowing customers to control their smart home, make calls, send texts, set reminders and more, from their Apple tablet. The smart assistant was first launched on iOS at Google I/O 2017, following its earlier introduction on Android devices, led by Google’s Pixel phone. At the time, however, it […]

Google Assistant arrives on iPad

 Google Assistant is launching today on iPad, allowing customers to control their smart home, make calls, send texts, set reminders and more, from their Apple tablet. The smart assistant was first launched on iOS at Google I/O 2017, following its earlier introduction on Android devices, led by Google’s Pixel phone. Read More

Discord partners with esports teams to launch Verified Servers

Discord, the voice and text chat app for gamers, is today announcing a new partnership with a number of eSports teams for the launch of Discord Verified Servers. Verified servers ensure that users know they’re communicating with an official source, similar to verified accounts on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Alongside […]

Apple could let you run iPad apps on your Mac

Apple is working hard on the next major versions of its operating systems — macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. While iOS is the big elephant in the room, the most intriguing new feature could be for macOS. According to reports from Bloomberg and Axios, Apple will let you run iPad apps. Yesterday, Axios first reported […]

Apple could let you run iPad apps on your Mac

 Apple is working hard on the next major versions of its operating systems — macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. While iOS is the big elephant in the room, the most intriguing new feature could be for macOS. According to reports from Bloomberg and Axios, Apple will let you run iPad apps. Yesterday, Axios first reported that Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig… Read More