Results tagged “iPhone” from Bill's Words

Seriously, the hype is so ridiculous these days that it’s just better to remember that AAPL is, just like every stock on the market, gambling.

Hmm. NFC, after all.

Why the 5c? I Think I Know...


Some blogs are asking, “Why is Apple making the iPhone 5c? Who’s the target audience?”

Remember this headline from a year ago?

Foxconn Exec Says iPhone 5 Is the ‘Most Difficult Device’ It Ever Made

And remember this headline from the not-too-distant past?

iPhone sales up, but Apple profit margin falls

Still wondering why the 5c exists and the 5 has been canned? If so, I’ll connect the dots for you.

How many assembly workers did you see in the manufacturing video for the 5c? Hint: None. That’s because robots—which don’t require food, rest, or suicide prevention nets—are doing more of the 5c assembly process than was possible for the 5. They’re faster, they’re more precise, and they make the 5c much less expensive to manufacture than the 5.

The net result? Higher margins on what is, essentially, an identical product to the outgoing 5. The colorful cases and shells are just the excuse to make the new product.

So, let’s answer the first question: who is Apple targeting with the 5c?


[As of noon today, Apple stock is down 5% meaning that investors don’t feel all that targeted.]

Ω A Reminder Bug in iOS 6.x...?


iOS 6 added a Reminders app, and I use it in spite of the awful interface. (The “on/off” switches for “Remind Me On a Day” and “Remind Me At a Place” are particularly awkward, and why doesn’t checking off a task make it go away?)

I have a daily reminder at 7:30pm to remind me about a task. Sometimes I do it early and check it off as being done. (Yay, me!) Strangely, reminders then reminds me at 7:30 that same night to do the task… and shows it as needing to be done at 7:30 tomorrow. It also shows up in the Reminders list as needing to be done at 7:30pm tomorrow, though it just reminded me about it at 7:30pm today.

Yes, a bug. An annoying bug.

Update: I can’t reproduce the bug. So I’ll delete my event and hopefully that’ll solve the problem.

In this article on TUAW, Kelly Hodgkins says of the Apple-authenticated Lightning cable for the iPhone 5:

This is convenient for users, but it could prove costly over the along [sic] run. Third-party cables offer a less expansive [sic] alternative to Apple’s pricey cables, but these 8-pin cables could be rendered useless if they lack the necessary authentication chip.

People griped about the cost of Apple power adapters because of the patented MagSafe connector. Now people are going to gripe about the cost of an official Apple cable, which remains unchanged at $19 whether it’s for a 30-pin dock connector or for a Lightning connector, in spite of the fact that a lot of the cheaper cables are (to put it bluntly) crap.

My MacBook has been saved numerous times by the MagSafe connector. And in the few days that I’ve had an iPhone 5, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting the connector in the correct way every single time.

So the next time you curse the dock connector for its asymmetry, compare the short-term expenditure of a few bucks versus the long-term convenience of the no-fumble, no-cursing cable. I’m willing to bet you’ll decide that Hodgkins has it backwards.

Ω A Few Days With an iPhone 5


I had very high hopes for the iPhone 5. Having had an iPhone 4 for the last two years, I noticed that new versions of iOS were beginning to make my phone feel sluggish. My wife’s 4S still feels acceptably fast, so when the nature of the processors in the iPhone 5 was announced, I knew only good things were coming.

I got my iPhone 5 via Verizon on Friday having placed my order late enough that if I’d ordered through Apple, I wouldn’t have received my iPhone until later this week. The packaging is as beautiful as always, and this time the headphones—the “EarPods”—come in a nice little difficult-to-open plastic box. Other than that, the packaging is only remarkable, as one would expect, because it’s so damned nice. Otherwise, it does its job and gets out of the way.

Setup turned out to be nontrivial because I started the job over at my wife’s office and tried to finish the job at home. I ended up goofing up the process and needed to start from scratch. After a while, it was all done and I was off and using the phone.

Other reviews have a lot of detail in them about the iPhone 5—more than I can possibly ever achieve. So let me tell you what I’ve found so far:

Field Test Mode is sticky.

If you put your previous iPhone into field test mode and backed it up with the signal strength indicator showing instead of bars (as outlined here), the signal strength indicator “preference” will carry forward to the new iPhone. This is good news because it makes figuring out what’s going on with my next point all that easier.

If you live in an LTE fringe area, your battery life will suck.

We live in the edge of an LTE area as evidenced by the aforementioned signal strength numbers. With LTE on, I see -111dBm to -117dBm consistently. Turning off LTE, which reverts the phone back to Verizon’s version of 3G, I see -80dBm or thereabouts. If I leave LTE on, my battery is depleted—<10%—by the end of the day, or about 16 hours after unplugging in the morning.

My assumption here is that the phone is doing the same thing the 3G phones do when in a 3G fringe area, namely “searching” by pinging the tower with a full boat of transmit power. It bounces between 3G and LTE, resulting in a much-decreased battery life. I’ve got anecdotal evidence of this gained by listening to my clock radio last night which is next to the charging iPhone 5. Every so often, the radio would buzz and hum (a very different buzz and hum from the 3G buzz and hum we’ve all heard on telecons). Turning off LTE made this pattern disappear.

My suggestion to Apple, if it’s not already covered by somebody’s patent, is to ignore LTE when I’ve got a WiFi signal or when I have a decent 3G signal and I’m not “doing” anything. When I start “doing” something which requires data, look for LTE; otherwise, preserve my battery life. Until LTE blankets the country, there are going to be a lot of phones out there in fringe areas hoping for an LTE signal they’re not likely to get.

4" is a smidgen too big.

I have big hands, and you know what they say about men with big hands, don’t you?

Yes, we wear big gloves.

All joking aside, I can span an octave and a fourth on a piano (if I stretch, an octave and a fifth), and yet I find that locating the “back” button so typical in iOS navigation at the upper left-hand corner of the screen puts it just a bit too far out of comfortable reach. Getting to it requires me to curl my pinky, ring and middle fingers of my right hand just a touch closer than is comfortable in order for me to get my right thumb over to that corner.

I keep a firm grip on my phone with those three fingers and my palm. This maneuver makes that grip just a bit more tenuous than I prefer.

As an iOS app developer (OK, an aspiring iOS app developer), I’m now rethinking the navigation of the app I’m working on. I think Apple should, too.

This phone is amazingly fast.

Again, I’m jumping two generations here, but as I demonstrated over the weekend with this little video demonstration, even the simplest of tasks, such as launching The Weather Channel app, happens so much faster, it’s like… like having a newer, faster phone. This phone came out only two years after the 4, only a year after the 4S, and yet it’s a leap forward in speed. Touch is significantly more responsive than my 4. Safari page load times are noticeably faster. It’s just better.

One Lightning cord is not enough.

I didn’t realize just how dependent I’ve become on having multiple cords hanging around the house to plug into. Well, two anyway, one on the iMac, and one at my bedside. I can see that the online store is backordered, so a trip to the local Apple store is called for. $20 isn’t too unreasonable, given that it’s more than just a piece of wire with some connectors on the end. And I’ve bought my fair share of non-Apple cables and they are hit or miss. I’d like a 100% hit rate, so it’s off to the Apple store I go.

The EarPods ain’t half bad.

I don’t claim to have a golden ear. In fact, one of my ears wouldn’t qualify for bronze. But these things are comfortable and don’t fall out when I’m folding laundry. (Sigh. Yes, I do the laundry.) And they have a good design for the button pod, too, which beats the design I have on my Klipsch earbuds hands down. (The Klipsch buttons are all round and almost identically-sized which means it takes me a moment to figure out which button I have my thumb on by comparing it to one of the other two.)

But it feels like the control pod’s position on the right ear cord has changed. (Rummage, rummage, compare, compare…) Turns out, I’m right, but it’s only about 1/2" higher, and yet I somehow keep missing it, even though it’s larger, too.

4" is just right.

OK, in direct contradiction to what I said above, I have to admit that the extra row of icons and the larger viewing are for comics and other things is wonderful. Now I can get all of the things I most frequently use onto my first page of icons (with one spot left over, even), and I can read Zits no matter how small the Sunday strip writing is.

Siri is cool.

No, really, I had a great time the other night posting a status to Facebook, unedited, 100% accurately. I even guessed the proper commands for open parenthesis (“open parenthesis”) and close parenthesis (“close parenthesis”—we’re not talking rocket science, here) and other punctuation. I spoke at a reasonable pace, and it got it all. Super nifty.

And, damn! it’s thin.

Maybe it won’t leave wear lines in my jeans quite as much as the 4 did.

It’s the little things. They add up to a big thing.

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life which make the biggest differences. Though Apple’s tagline for the iPhone 5 is “The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone,” I think it’s all the little things which make this so big. No one feature is enough to sell me on the phone. But anybody considering the outlay of $200 vs. your two-year contract costs and thinking “I don’t have that much” really ought to reconsider, save up for a few months, and get a 5 instead of a 4S or 4.

It’s just worth it.

Ω Ho. Lee. Crap, It's Fast...


Having used an iPhone 4 for the last two years and having just gotten an iPhone 5 today, I have been marveling at just how frickin’ fast this thing is. But when I launched “The Weather Channel” app, I had a “Ho, lee, crap!” moment.

I captured it with a Silver Nano for your viewing pleasure:

What you see is my force-qutting TWC app so you know there’s nothing fishy going on. Then I launch the app. And (poof!) the weather appears!

Here’s how I see things: if there’s an iPhone 5, and if it supports LTE, and if it infringes on Samsung’s patents, then Samsung will sue Apple.

No problem.

But the way Samsung sees it is like this: if the iPhone 5 supports LTE, it will infringe on Samsung’s patents.

I think the only way you can draw that kind of conclusion is if you steal proprietary information, isn’t it?

I’m sure Samsung would never steal proprietary information, though.


Representing weather data as an image is only part of the magic behind the scenes:

The reason we encode velocity data as an image is so we can pass it off to the GPU on the iPhone and iPad. Both the storm prediction and the smooth animations are calculated on the device itself, rather than the server, and all the magic happens directly on the GPU.

Read the rest of the article here.

via SplatF

Oh! The humanity!

It wasn’t two million phones in 24 hours, so certainly this is a failure. You’d better sell your Apple stock now. I’ll take it off your hands for a generous $100/share…

Chart here.

It makes me wonder, though, if there’s a breakfast/lunch/dinner rush at the App Store, though.

Here’s how I read Apple’s response to the Lodsys letters and, not being a lawyer, it might be wrong:

  1. Lodsys says that Apple is licensed to use the Lodsys patents in Apple-branded products. (And conversely, from Lodsys’s previous assertions, the developers are not licensed to use the Lodsys technologies in the developer-branded products.)
  2. Apple says that the app developers’ products use Apple-branded products. I.e., if the developer uses an API, it’s an Apple API. If the developer uses an iOS device, it’s an Apple iOS device. And if the developer relies on the iTunes store, it’s the Apple iTunes store, etc. Apple even cites the letters that Lodsys uses to show infringement as showing Apple-branded products throughout.
  3. Since the developers are using Apple-branded products to implement the technologies Lodsys claims to own, the Lodsys patent(s) are not being infringed upon, these Apple-branded and legally-licensed products having been legally sold to the App Makers (as Apple calls them). A Supreme Court reference is used to make it clear that that’s how Apple’s reading the claims, too.

Here’s a concrete example to help illustrate my reading: Let’s say you build FasterBikes bicycles and buy a Shimano drivetrain for your product. The Shimano drivetrain uses a gear technology licensed from another firm, Lodsys. By now, you would have received a letter from Lodsys telling you that you have to license their technology for use under the FasterBikes name. Shimano (Apple), however, having licensed the gear technology for use under the Shimano name, is essentially telling Lodsys in this letter that the Shimano-branded parts are still Shimano-branded parts and that they have no business trying to get FasterBikes to license the technology. If, on the other hand, you made your own drivetrain that used the Lodsys gear technology and put that on your bike, then Lodsys would have a leg to stand on and you’d be on your own.

And that brings me to this interesting thought: What about apps which are sold through Cydia, the jailbroken iOS device app store? I think Lodsys might have a leg to stand on there since those apps probably don’t use the Apple-branded APIs for certain activities and hence are not licensed to use the Lodsys technologies. And how about the apps sold through the Android Market? Though Google is a licensee of these patents, I don’t think the Android Market has in place any controls (read “curation like Apple does with the App Store”) which would prevent use of the Lodsys technologies through a non-Google-branded API.

In other words, maybe there is a good reason for Apple to collect its 30% for all purchases, and maybe there is a good reason for Apple to require the use of its APIs wherever possible: legal protection against the so-called “patent trolls.” For these developers, it seems to be worth the price so far.

Anywho… one commenter to Macworld put it pretty succinctly: “Wow that is the longest and most articulate bitch slap I have ever read.” It is not, however, a slam-dunk. I’m pretty certain that Lodsys won’t drop the notices and will try articulating their argument a different way—if they bother doing anything at all. After all, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and the only people who will lose in this are the individual developers. And in that case, for them the only hope is that Apple will file suit against Lodsys, since I don’t see anything criminal (i.e., the government won’t step in) in what Lodsys is doing.

At any rate, I think this one is going to get more interesting, so stay tuned!

The quick rundown: A company called Lodsys is threatening a handful of small developers with legal action for their supposed infringement of a Lodsys-owned patent by the developers’ use of Apple’s in-app purchasing system. Some developers are trying to get Apple to step in and help by boycotting the in-app purchasing system. The full story is here on ars technica.

Others in the community have opined that the patent in question is overly broad and would likely be invalidated at trial, but getting to trial and conducting individual trials is well beyond the budgets of these small developers. And so what we have here is reasonably similar to a protection racket, only it’s entirely legal.

In this particular case, it would be entirely reasonable for Apple to step in and attempt to invalidate the patent on behalf of the developers because, after all, part of Apple’s revenue stream is at risk. If developers choose not to use the in-app purchasing system because of the threat of being sued, then Apple doesn’t gain the revenues from that purchasing stream.

But let’s assume for a moment that Apple can’t or won’t get involved for some reason. Perhaps Apple legal thinks it’s a slippery slope and they will only end up shelling out many more millions than they stand to make on this revenue stream. Or let’s assume that another patent troll and patent were involved and it didn’t directly affect Apple’s revenue stream somehow, though it does affect the individual developers.

What then?

There aren’t a whole lot of options to developers. Unfortunately, unlike a criminal trial where the government is required to provide a defense to the accused, civil defendants have no such protections afforded them—they’re left to defend themselves at their own costs. At best, they might find someone who is willing to take the case pro bono (literally, “for good,” i.e., not “for money”). The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, has a staff of lawyers who help out sometimes in cases like this. But while the EFF is certainly no friend of patent trolls, I’d guess it’s also not likely to defend the closed and proprietary Apple ecosystem, either. And it’s highly unlikely that any really good intellectual property (IP) firm would undertake the defense of one small developer. It’s still about the almighty buck, and there wouldn’t be enough publicity in that.

So here’s my suggestion: Crowdsource the defense and gang up on Lodsys.

Step 1: Start a Kickstarter project to fund the evaluation of the validity of Lodsys’s claims. This has to be done quickly as the developers have only a few weeks to respond to Lodsys. It would certainly help if an intellectual property (IP) attorney with a superior track record in defense of IP claims were willing to do the work pro bono, but there will still be costs involved.

I, for one, would throw in $100 on principle alone.

Step 2: If indeed the patent looks unlikely to hold water, then continue with the Kickstarter project to consolidate the certain-to-occur litigation and see it through trial.

It’s a risky proposition, sure, because nothing’s certain in the Eastern District Court of Texas—the developers could still lose the case. But what message would it send to the patent trolls?

For one, it says that the little developer is no longer helpless. Sue enough of them, and you’ve kicked the hornets’ nest, so to speak. Second, it says that the patent in question had damned-well better hold water, and hold it well. (As much as I hate software patents, it’s the law, and if your product really does infringe, then you’re on the hook to license it. Sorry.) Third, it sets a precedent, and it’s all about setting precedent in law.

So… what about it? Anybody able to start a Kickstarter for this one? Any IP attorneys out there willing to give it a go?

John Gruber and I have briefly conversed about what the resolution of an upgraded-resolution iPad will be. He firmly believes it will be 2x the current resolution because it’s just easier. (True, it is.) But I believe that some future revision of the iPad will have a higher-resolution display which is not a fixed integer multiple of the current resolution for reasons I’ve outlined previously. Two more things make me think I’m right.

First, Apple itself. With 10.4 and 10.5, resolution independence was introduced in phases and was “developer only.” (Via 10.6 was supposed to be more resolution-independent than the previous two releases, but… alas, not so much. That’s bad.

Or… is it? Wouldn’t it be a convenient alignment of things if iOS 5 and Mac OS X 10.7 introduced resolution independence about the same time? They share the same rendering engines, after all, and many other parts of their architecture. If both OSs introduced the last bits of making their interfaces resolution independent, it would make good use of resources in the company. Not that Apple has to think frugally, but if they’re trying to converge the two platforms somehow…

I’m just sayin’.

Second, WebOS Enyo apparently does some resolution independent jiggery-pokery according to this Engadget note. Not that I understand exactly what this means, because I am not about to plunge into the WebOS SDK documentation, but they are making a concerted effort to attract developers by allowing devs to write once for multiple target resolutions. That’s powerful stuff.

Now, Apple does not promote that devs should write once for iPad and iPhone/iPod (because the interfaces themselves should really be tailored to the different screen sizes), though it does work. Instead, Apple would likely try the same approach as HP and promote resolution independence as the bridge between future higher-resolution devices and the past’s lower-resolution devices. WebOS is ahead of both Mac OS and iOS here—there’s some real competition, finally.

So that’s it. I further stick my neck out on the subject of the iPad X’s resolution.

I sure hope I’m right…

From the nicely-formatted-for-readers-on-any-mobile-platform Reuters article:

The survey found that just 25 percent of smartphone owners planned to stay loyal to the operating system running their phone, with loyalty highest among Apple users at 59 percent, and lowest for Microsoft’s phone software, at 21 percent.

Of users of Research in Motion’s BlackBerrys, 35 percent said they would stay loyal. The figure was 28 percent for users of phones running Google’s Android software, and 24 percent for users of Nokia Symbian phones.

I’m surprised John Gruber missed the opportunity to point out that since Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, it’s not about market share. It’s about mind share. He does point out, though:

Android’s loyalty numbers are much closer to Windows Mobile’s than the iPhone’s, which, of course, proves that Android is winning.

Love it.

John’s link is here

This article tells you how to download the software for your iOS devices directly in Safari and then tells you that you can tell iTunes which update to install manually.

However, there’s also a great use for these directly-downloaded files if you have multiple iOS devices to update. Use the referenced links to download multiple iOS updates simultaneously—the total for downloading all of your updates is as long it takes for iTunes to download just one update. Then put the files into the appropriate ~/Library/iTunes/(iPod/iPhone/iPad Software Updates) folder.

Then, when you plug in your iOS device for updating, the download process is skipped, the update is verified, and you’ve saved yourself waiting for sequential downloads to occur.

Is this a big deal? Could be. I plug in multiple iOS devices and update as many as I can simultaneously and once you click “Update” for one of them, all operations are halted for the others. (You did know iTunes will do more than one device simultaneously, didn’t you?) Last night, I had to update two iPads, iPhones 3G, 3GS, and 4, and iPod Touch G2. That’s five firmware files and would have been about 1.5 hours of downloading via iTunes vs. 15 minutes with Safari.

Article here in which Steve John Gruber says the following (quoting another of his readers):

“We know from the Gizmodo stolen iPhone that the prototypes were disguised in cases when outside Apple’s campus. Maybe that’s why Apple missed this flaw in the antenna: they never noticed it on campus because they have a strong AT&T signal, and never noticed it off campus because the iPhones were always inside cases, and cases mitigate the skin-touching-the-spot problem.”

That’s just not possible.

He then explains why it’s supposedly not possible; I summarize his reasoning as “When the iPhone 4 was used inside the anechoic chambers where the signal could be weak or strong, and inside the special iPhone testing vans, the phone would have not been in a case. There was one helluva’ lot of testing.”

While his reasoning may be true, the blanket statement “That’s just not possible” isn’t proven by it.

Because it is possible. It’s just one of the possibilities, and to discount this possibility based on Steve Jobs’s statements and the antenna lab tours is not terribly good reasoning.

Remembering that the iPhone 4 differs from every other phone, smart or not, in that its antenna structures are touchable, here are some more possibilities:

  • Testing occurred in the labs with weak signals, granted. But the antenna labs are climate controlled and it’s possible that the humans who came into contact with the phone never had very much moisture on their fingers because they just weren’t sweaty enough to cause total signal loss. Was skin conductivity even measured?

Not that that is what happened, but it’s possible.

  • The people in the tests never held it in the short-the-antenna-structure-out fashion. Unless they documented the way the phones were held and used with every test, they missed an important piece of data.

Not that that is what happened, but it’s possible.

  • The phones used out in the open (not at Apple or in the vans under well-controlled conditions) were used with cases, mitigating the problem.

Not that that is what happened, but it’s possible.

I would bet a beer that nobody ever thought to model and/or evaluate skin conductivity between the two antenna structures. I am, however, certain that the conductivity and “meat” involved where the hands touch a single antenna were at least modeled, if not tested. I guarantee that, in fact—and am willing to bet a beer on that, too. (Offer valid only for Gruber or Jobs or his designee. Sorry, everybody else.)

Furthermore, Steve didn’t say, “When the iPhone 4 is held with the two antenna structures shorted out, we knew it would lose a few bars.” No, he says, “We knew that if you gripped it in a certain way, the bars are going to go down a little bit, just like every smartphone. We didn’t think it’d be a big problem, because every smartphone has this issue.”

First, he never says what “the certain way” is, but implies that it’s the same “certain way” that any other smartphone might exhibit a problem with. And second, yes, they very well may have “this issue,” but the issue they don’t have is that of shorting out one or more antenna structures. And that is the crux of the issue, the proverbial point which is being missed here, over and over again.

Consumer Reports gets it. I get it. Those inside the RDF, on the other hand, just don’t seem to be able to get it.

Even if I don’t quite agree with the Ariail’s implication of the severity of the problem (my interpretation of “bad” is not as bad as others’ perceptions), the message is correct. It only takes one…

This panel is worth the click. Stick around and read some more of this excellent cartoonist’s work.

Well, Apple’s not quite done the right thing, and it is disappointing to me.

Instead of admitting that there is a well-documented and clearly-understood problem with the iPhone, Apple’s saying that all smartphones have a problem and their phone isn’t alone.

Unfortunately, this is mixing Apples (ahem) and oranges because, while there are certain positions you can hold any phone in that will attenuate the signal by sticking your meaty hands in the way, the iPhone 4 is the only phone whose antenna you touch directly.

One more time: the iPhone 4 is the only phone whose antenna you touch directly.

It’s not the fact that you stick your hand in the way like other phones. It’s that you are a conductor between two portions of the antenna system. It is rocket science. But it’s simple rocket science.

If Apple put a clear, non-conductive coating on the antenna structure, my guess is that there would still be some capacitive coupling between the two antennas when you grip the thing “the wrong way.” But it wouldn’t be nearly as substantial as directly shorting out the two antenna parts.


I’m going to give mine a shot of Krylon. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Their article here.

My articles here and here.

Look at them with their fancy schmancy labs and engineers and stuff. All I have is an engineering degree or two and some iPhone teardown photos. Guess I win for efficiency, though the victory certainly is hollow.