Archive for September 10, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

iPhone 6s and 3D Touch

Jason Snell:

The killer feature here is 3D Touch, and while it’s a little confusing to watch, it makes perfect sense when that iPhone is in your hand. I was really impressed with how smart the iPhone is at detecting different levels of pressure. In the few minutes that I was using an iPhone 6S, I never found myself tapping instead of using 3D Touch, and never found myself accidentally “popping” when I was meant to “peek.”

Josh Tyrangiel:

Apple isn’t in the habit of explaining how it makes things work, because the people at Samsung can read, and hold a patent on a similar technology. But in lieu of the usual polite deflection, Federighi picked up an iPhone 6S and explained one of 3D Touch’s simpler challenges: “It starts with the idea that, on a device this thin, you want to detect force. I mean, you think you want to detect force, but really what you’re trying to do is sense intent. You’re trying to read minds. And yet you have a user who might be using his thumb, his finger, might be emotional at the moment, might be walking, might be laying on the couch. These things don’t affect intent, but they do affect what a sensor [inside the phone] sees. So there are a huge number of technical hurdles. We have to do sensor fusion with accelerometers to cancel out gravity—but when you turn [the device] a different way, we have to subtract out gravity. … Your thumb can read differently to the touch sensor than your finger would. That difference is important to understanding how to interpret the force. And so we’re fusing both what the force sensor is giving us with what the touch sensor is giving us about the nature of your interaction. So down at even just the lowest level of hardware and algorithms—I mean, this is just one basic thing. And if you don’t get it right, none of it works.”


“Why would we spend this many years working on 3D Touch when you can do some of these things with a button? Well it’s, it’s just such a fluid connection with your content,” says Ive, a little dreamily. “And not everything is binary, is it?”

John Gruber:

“3D Touch” is the new “Force Touch” (Craig Federighi slipped at one point, saying “force” before correcting himself.) I’ve seen concerns that this overcomplicates the iPhone’s UI design, but I would argue the opposite. It’s the multi-touch equivalent of keyboard shortcuts on the desktop: shortcuts for tasks that can all be accomplished without it. To use the old parlance, 3D Touch is for power users.

There’s no 4-inch model, but perhaps 3D Touch will ameliorate the problems with reaching on larger screens. The easier app switching and trackpad mode look great.

Husain Sumra:

While Apple didn’t discuss AppleCare+ pricing as it unveiled the new iPhone 6s and 6 Plus today at its “Hey Siri” event, the Cupertino company did unveil new pricing for the service on its website. AppleCare+ for both devices is $129.99 while its service fee is $99.99.

This is an increase from the pricing for iPhone 6 and earlier models, which are priced at $99.99 for AppleCare+ and $79.99 for the service fee.

Benjamin Mayo:

In the promo video, Apple shows a shot of the iPhone 6s internals. As it happens, this render is extremely detailed and you can actually make out the battery specifications inscribed onto the battery. Its rated at 1715mAh, which is down from the 1810mAH packed into the previous iPhone 6.

It seems that Apple has had to shrink the battery to make space for new features like the 3D Touch screen and the Taptic Engine. However, according to Apple’s technical specifications, it shouldn’t make a difference. The battery life estimates for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 are identical.

Update (2015-09-10): The iPhone 6s has 2 GB of RAM, up from 1 GB in the iPhone 6. It’s also about half an ounce heavier, about the same as the increase from the 5s to the 6.

David Smith:

In the end Apple has decided to continue offering a product that will almost inevitably fail their customer at some point, and potentially fail them at a moment of deep personal importance. That makes me sad, and as someone who makes my living riding their coattails, worried about the long term effects of this short term thinking. Maybe it is just sentimentality but those aren’t the priorities that I think Apple stands for.

Update (2015-09-11): Ken Segall:

The marketing theme for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus — The only thing that’s changed is everything — seems designed to counter the popular perception that S-years are off-years. […] Well … Apple wouldn’t have to address the knee-jerk criticism if it didn’t create this “off-year” perception with its choice of names. In this case, it is certainly reaping what it has sown.

Update (2015-09-16): Joe Rossignol:

Apple published Environmental Reports for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus that reveal the devices are about 11% heavier than their predecessors, as first noted by The Verge. But the additional weight comes almost entirely from the 3D Touch display, which weighs nearly twice as much as a regular ion-strengthened display.

Update (2015-09-25): Jason Snell:

Every time I intended to use 3D Touch to “push” an icon on the iPhone home screen, the feature activated and a contextual menu popped into view, accompanied by a tiny vibration to indicate that I had succeeded with my gesture. The extension of that gesture–sliding my finger or thumb down to the right menu item and then letting go–felt natural after a single try.


The best way I can describe it is that for all my attempts to get 3D Touch to misunderstand me, it just couldn’t do it. I didn’t need to use the heavy-fingered press I have to use on the Apple Watch–the 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s is almost gentle.


Getting this right was a tough problem to solve, so tough that most of us who tried to envision the feature before it was announced had a hard time imagining how it could possibly succeed. But, as someone who has held the iPhone 6s in my hand, I can tell you that it really does.

Ken Segall:

If Apple weren’t hell-bent on reinforcing the”tick-tock” idea, it wouldn’t need to run commercials that aim to counter the perception. Nor would there be a need to overcome S inertia with theme lines like “The only thing that’s changed is everything.”

iPad Pro

Jason Snell:

In the hands-on area, I also got to type on the Smart Keyboard as well as the iPad Pro’s own on-screen keyboard. The iPad Pro’s screen is so large, the on-screen keyboard is practically a full-sized keyboard on its own, complete with a number/symbol row. There’s even a Tab key. If I focused really hard on my fingers, I found that I could type on the keyboard at a blistering pace.

The Smart Keyboard seems great for what it is, which is a keyboard so small and thin that you can carry it with you everywhere and use it as a screen protector. The keys move, a little, and it’s a comfort to feel real key caps.

John Gruber:

As with other iPads and iPhones, Apple won’t talk about RAM, even though developers will be able to find out as soon as they get their hands on them. If we were to wager on the amount of RAM in iPad Pro, my bet would be 4 GB. And I would wager very heavily.

To me, the interesting part of the iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil. If you aren’t using that, it seems like a tweener for many uses. Ergonomically, the smaller iPads would be better for reading, and a MacBook would be better for productivity. But what a screen!

Update (2015-09-10): Ben Thompson:

Cook’s assumption is that the iPad problem is Apple’s problem, and given that Apple is a company that makes hardware products, Cook’s solution is, well, a new product.


That, then, means that Cook’s conclusion that Apple could best improve the iPad by making a new product isn’t quite right: Apple could best improve the iPad by making it a better platform for developers. Specifically, being a great platform for developers is about more than having a well-developed SDK, or an App Store: what is most important is ensuring that said developers have access to sustainable business models that justify building the sort of complicated apps that transform the iPad’s glass into something indispensable.

Emanuel Sa:

But the biggest problem is the platform. Apps on iOS sell for unsustainably low prices due to the lack of trials. We cannot port Sketch to the iPad if we have no reasonable expectation of earning back on our investment. Maintaining an application on two different platforms and provide one of them for a 10th of it’s value won’t work, and iPad volumes are low enough to disqualify the “make it up in volume” argument.

Linda Dong (comments):

Currently the Wacom Cintiq is regarded as the pinnacle of professional drawing stylus/surface design. A lot of hesitation (or dismissal) of the Apple Pencil seems to stem from people’s belief that Cintiq is superior in performance and design at a similar price. *sigh*

Quite plainly, the Cintiq sucks in comparison. And I’ve been using them for years for industrial design sketching, UI, and art.

Update (2015-09-11): Fraser Speirs:

On Wednesday, Tim Cook came out and put the iPad front and center. It led and, arguably, dominated the substantive announcements at the event. He called it the future of personal computing and that means more than any specifics of any current version of the iPad.

Update (2015-09-22): John Brayton:

There are many reasons the iPad Pro cannot replace the Mac for many people. I think the most overlooked reason is that there is no comfortable way to touch the iPad’s display when using it with a hardware keyboard. You need the iPad to be upright in order to see it. Reaching to touch the upright iPad screen becomes extremely uncomfortable over time. There is no mouse or trackpad for iOS.

Update (2015-09-23): Blair Hanley Frank:

What sets the iPad Pro apart from its counterparts in Microsoft’s eyes is the massive 12.9-inch display. Microsoft allows users with devices that have screens smaller than 10.1 inches to edit documents for free, but users of devices larger than that have to pony up for an Office 365 subscription. It’s not just iOS: the same policy goes for Android and Windows tablets as well.

Update (2015-09-25): Pieter Omvlee (via Gus Mueller):

This puts the fate of the iPad Pro back in the hands of those who nearly killed Apple in the 90s: Adobe and Microsoft. It is almost like a Greek Tragedy; while Apple desperately tried to avoid it, it has unknowingly helped make the inevitable come to pass.

John Gruber:

The iPad is five years old and there just isn’t as much “pro” software for it as there should be. And I think it’s hurting the platform. In theory, developers like Bohemian Coding (the makers of Sketch) should be all over the iPad Pro. In reality, they’re staying away simply because they don’t think they’ll make enough money to justify the costs of development.

Update (2015-10-04): Pierre Lebeaupin:

And so, what corresponding iOS platform news did we get from Apple this September? Err, none. From a policy standpoint, iOS is still as developer-unfriendly, by not supporting software trials for instance, even though this is a fundamental commercial practice; in fact, this appear to be backfiring on Apple, as this resulted in potential buyers going for the already established brands when it comes to professional iPad software, and in Apple coming to bringing Adobe and Microsoft on stage in the presentation to prove the professional potential of the iPad pro; those two companies are probably the ones Apple wishes to be least dependent upon, and yet here we are.