Archive for March 22, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Xcode Upgrades: Lessons Learned

Erica Sadun:

I spent roughly 8 hours all told downloading, installing, and updating Xcode, much of which could have been bypassed by following two simple rules:

  1. Never update Xcode from the Mac App Store
  2. Wait until Apple posts the upload on developer.apple.com/downloads and then update from there.

[…]

Under such circumstances, you’ll always be better off downloading the bossy full-figured 5GB dmg than upgrading a model-thin Chanel-wearing 2.6GB differential, especially when servers are mocking you with NananaNAN completion estimates.

This is why you should always wait for a DMG. No matter how long it takes to appear on the developer site. No matter how slow the download ends up being. The advantages of downloading a DMG are numerous[…]

Seconded. I have nearly always regretted updating Xcode via the Mac App Store. And you’ll probably want the .dmg file to save a copy of that Xcode version, anyway. (I wouldn’t count on an archived copy from the Mac App Store to keep working.)

Apple’s “Loop You In” Event

John Gruber:

If you listen to my podcast, you know how ambivalent I remain about the physical size of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 6S. I was really hoping that the iPhone SE would effectively have iPhone 6S specs — CPU and GPU performance, and similar camera quality. That seems to be exactly what Apple delivered. I honestly think this is the phone I’m going to use for the next six months.

In hand, the iPhone SE is nearly indistinguishable from an iPhone 5S. Other than the matte finish on the chamfered edges, the only difference I could spot is the “SE” on the back of the phone. No curved sides, no curved glass.

I remain ambivalent as well. I’ve found that I like using the 4.7-inch screen. It’s not as easy to use one-handed, but the extra space (both for reading and for typing) is worth it overall. Unexpectedly, what bothers me most about the iPhone 6s’ size is that it’s so uncomfortable in my pocket. I doubt there’s much that can be done about that, short of making it bendable; making it thinner wouldn’t help much.

I don’t think it’s worth trading my 6s for an SE, but if I were buying today it would be a tough decision because the SE doesn’t really match the flagship phone. I’ve gotten used to the much faster Touch ID and editing text with 3D Touch (even though it often doesn’t work the first time). The 6s’ front-facing camera was the first one that I actually use for photos. And I like having 128 GB of storage—not because I’m currently using more than 64 GB, but because I know that I won’t have to worry about it over the next two years.

Regarding the iPhone SE’s design, I’m happy to see the sleep button on the top and that there is no camera bump. Most importantly, it does not have curved edges, after all. The sharp edges are the worst part of the iPhone 6/6s, and for me they make a case essential for the first time. After using several different cases, I’ve settled on the Magpul Field Case. It makes the curved edges comfortable and grippable (without sticking in the pocket), makes the orientation easier to feel than Apple’s cases, and makes the buttons easier to press and yet harder to press accidentally. It also counteracts the camera bump so that the phone lies flat. The downsides: dust collects in the camera cutout, the colors aren’t as good as Apple’s, and the overall design is much less attractive than Apple’s cases or a naked phone. I’m grateful to have found a case that I like, but I wish that it were not necessary. It more than negates any thinness benefit of the 6s vs. the 5s, without filling the space with something useful, such as battery.

Ben Thompson:

The problem is growth: specifically, how many high-end customers are there, and how many of those customers find their current iPhones to be good-enough? And, if Apple believed their market to be increasingly saturated, would the company be willing to cannibalize its high-margin iPhone?

The iPhone SE suggests the answer is yes, and that fact alone made yesterday’s event far more important than it seems. Specifically, Apple is offering top-of-the-line specs for an unprecedented price of $399. In other words, the SE is no 5C. In fact, it seems likely Apple learned some inadvertent lessons from the 5C: I am not at all surprised that the SE looks identical to a 5S; when an integral part of the iPhone value proposition is status what customer wants to advertise that they bought a model that was never a flagship?

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro looks impressive, although what I really wanted to see today was a lighter iPad mini. My first thought was that the iPad Pro’s camera bump would make it not lie flat, but Matthew Panzarino says that it doesn’t wobble.

Manton Reece:

Dan Moren writes for Six Colors about the structure for the 1-hour Apple event today, of which only about half the time was spent on new products[…] I’d like to see this continue at future events. Leave the record sales numbers for the finance call, and instead focus on what good Apple is doing because they are big, not just how they are big.

I would rather see a shorter, more focused event, though Apple probably has good reasons not to do that. This was at least better than repeating the pattern of sales numbers and customer sat, which everyone probably tunes out by now.

Milen Dzhumerov:

I miss Apple Computer Inc. – the company that used to be fully focused on creating the best computers running Mac OS X.

Selena Larson:

Schiller said that 600 million people are using PCs that are over five years old. “This is really sad,” he said.

Brian Stucki:

Apple: Many in-use PCs are more than five years old.

Also Apple: we currently sell a Mac that is nearly 4 years old. And a few other ~2yrs

Sebastiaan de With:

It’s really killing me to see so many great artistic professional friends switch to Windows / PCs because Apple is neglecting Pro Macs.

Joe Rossignol:

While some customers were hopeful that Apple would release new Macs at its “Let Us Loop You In” media event yesterday, the product announcements were focused on the new 4-inch iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and additional Apple Watch bands.

But those waiting patiently for a Mac refresh may not have much longer to wait, as DigiTimes today reported that Apple will begin shipping new “ultra-thin” 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter.

When I think of what I want to see in the next MacBook Pros, “thinner” is not even on my list. I want more storage and RAM, better performance, more ports, a larger screen, and cellular. I fear that Apple is going to trade some or all of those for thinness, while also making the keyboard and trackpad worse.

I’m also sad to see that Apple updated virtually all of its operating systems except the one for the Apple TV 3, which is still for sale. It seems like it will be stuck with the discoveryd regression for good.

Update (2016-03-22): Manton Reece:

I keep thinking about the iPhone SE price: $399 for essentially the power of a 6S, which is $649. That’s just a great value. I’ve said on Core Intuition recently that while the 6S and upcoming 7 will always remain the most popular phone, I think the SE could hold its own with the 6S Plus in units sold. Now I wonder if it could even surpass it.

Nick Heer:

I’ve always been a fan of the 5S’ form factor, too — to my eyes and hands, it’s the prettiest and most comfortable iPhone ever.1 But the drawbacks of an SE are not insignificant, compared to a 6S: its display panel isn’t as good, the cover glass isn’t as durable, the Touch ID sensor is the much slower first-generation version, it doesn’t have 3D Touch, and it isn’t available in a 128 GB storage configuration. These are all deal-breakers for me, though they may not be for you.

I’m curious to see how the SE finds its place in Apple’s lineup over the coming few generations. Will it be like the iPad Mini, lagging one generation behind? Will it eventually get redesigned to look a bit more like a 6(S) generation iPhone, or will it perpetually look like a 5(S)? Does it have a permanent place in the lineup, or is it a stopgap?

Update (2016-03-24): Nick Heer:

But his — I assume — improvised “really sad” punchline didn’t land because having a five year old functional computer is not sad, it is impressive. I didn’t replace my MacBook Pro until it was over five years old. My MacBook Air will turn four this year and, while I ache for a better display, I have no immediate intention of replacing it any time soon. The display in my Air, by the way, is effectively the same panel that has been included with MacBook Airs since at least 2010, making it well over five years old.

Riccardo Mori:

I’ll just close with a quip — There are sadder things than five-year-old PCs: the current state of the Mac App Store, to name one.

Update (2016-03-30): Joe Cieplinski:

For one thing, I just got myself into a contract last September via the iPhone Upgrade Program for the 6s Plus. (I recognize that this is was my choice, by the way, so I’m not blaming anyone but myself.) To buy out the remainder of my contract on the 6s Plus and get myself an SE, I’d be out around $900. That’s a lot of money to get myself a smaller phone.

Things don’t get better in September, either, as I reach my 1-year milestone with the 6s Plus. The iPhone Upgrade Program does allow me to upgrade after only one year, but the program doesn’t include the SE. So while I can trade up to the iPhone 7 (or whatever Apple calls the new phones at that time) I can’t trade down to the SE. I’ll be in the same boat. Wait another year, or buy out the remaining contract.

My worry about the iPhone SE is that it’s not top-of-the-line at release, which is already 6 months behind the iPhone 6s, and it will only fall farther behind. I doubt Apple will update it with the other iPhones this fall, and it may end up on a two-year (or longer) cycle. So I’m glad that 4-inch iPhones aren’t gone completely, but this is not really what I wanted.

Andy Grove, RIP

Casey Newton:

Andy Grove, who fled from Nazi and Soviet oppression to become one of the most powerful business leaders in the global tech industry as the chairman and CEO of Intel, died on Monday. He was 79. The cause of death was not reported, though Grove was a longtime sufferer of Parkinson’s disease.

Intel:

Present at Intel’s 1968 founding with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, Andy Grove became Intel’s President in 1979 and CEO in 1987. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2005. Both during his time at Intel and in retirement, Grove was one of the most influential figures in technology and business, writing best-selling books and widely cited articles, and speaking out on an array of prominent public issues.

Steve Johnson:

During his three decades with the Santa Clara corporation, the gruff and demanding Grove helped mold Intel into a multibillion-dollar Goliath and the world’s biggest semiconductor company. Along the way, he also became a prolific author, donated millions of dollars to charity and was lavished with awards, including being named Time magazine’s Man of the Year.

[…]

Grove fled to Austria at the age of 20 and, with $20 in his pocket, emigrated to the United States, where he changed his name from Grof to Grove, moved in with relatives and was accepted at City College of New York.

[…]

Finishing City College in 1960 at the top of his class with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, he entered graduate school at UC Berkeley and arranged for his parents to leave Hungary and join him in California. After receiving a doctorate degree in chemical engineering in 1963, Grove landed a job with Silicon Valley chip pioneer Fairchild Semiconductor, where he became assistant director of research and development in 1967.

Ian King:

When Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison told Andy Grove he was the only person in Silicon Valley who they would willingly work for, he told them he wouldn’t have hired either because they were “a couple of flakes.”

He was at least half serious and didn’t crack a smile.

[…]

If Grove experienced fear when he came to Intel, that didn’t stop him from using it as a management technique. He influenced a generation of Intel executives who referred to planning meetings with him as a “Hungarian inquisition.”

“Mentoring with Andy Grove was like going to the dentist and not getting Novocain,” said Pat Gelsinger, a former Intel executive who went on to become CEO of VMWare Inc.

Jonathan Kandell:

The first major crisis was linked to the rise of cheaper, high-quality Japanese memory chips beginning in the late 1970s. Instead of cutting costs by laying off staff, Mr. Grove demanded that Intel employees work an extra two hours a day — for free. Almost simultaneously, Intel introduced an advanced chip, the i432 microprocessor, that the company claimed would reshape computing’s future.

Instead, it proved a disaster, running 5 to 10 times more slowly than competitors. Part of the problem, Mr. Grove conceded in a 2001 interview with Wired magazine, was that he initially failed to take microprocessors seriously enough. “I was running an assembly line designed to build memory chips,” he said. “I saw the microprocessor as a bloody nuisance.”

But with Mr. Grove at the helm, Intel soon made the transition from memory chip to microprocessor giant.

Ben Thompson:

That’s why the Grove decision that actually impresses me the most is Intel’s launch of the Celeron processor in 1998. Grove had been introduced to a then-relatively-unknown Harvard Business School professor named Clayton Christensen, who told him about research for an upcoming book (The Innovator’s Dilemma) that explained how companies in their pursuit of margin allowed themselves to be beat on the low-end. Grove took the lesson to heart and directed Intel to create a low-end processor (Celeron) that certainly cannibalized Intel’s top-of-the-line processor to an extent but also dominated the low-end, quickly gaining 35% market share.

Update (2016-04-02): Ken Segall:

Intel’s huge leap in marketing came with the “Intel Inside” campaign. Though it’s grown incredibly tired today, this campaign does hold a place of honor in technology marketing history. It was by advertising the processor inside the PC as a consumer product that Intel became the global powerhouse it is today. It was a huge, bold leap.

Intel’s then-marketing chief, Dennis Carter, has always received credit for the birth of this campaign. But Fortune has a very nice article about Andy Grove (recommended reading), and they report that it was Andy who put his weight behind the campaign when others objected. That’s certainly a feather in his marketing cap.

Camera.app Still Pauses Audio Playback

Ole Begemann:

Taking photos or videos while listening to music is not an edge case. It’s unclear to me whether the current behavior is a deliberate choice by the engineers who wrote the camera app or if nobody really thought about this, but I think it’s a bad default.

I can imagine many situations where I would want music playback to continue while I’m recording a video or taking a photo (Live Photo or not). I almost always listen to podcasts or music when I walk around the city, and this is also a great opportunity for taking pictures. And it’s not even limited to using headphones. Say you’re at a party where people are taking turns at playing songs on the room’s stereo wirelessly from their smartphones. You wouldn’t want your iPhone to stop music playback just because you want to take a video of your dancing friends.

Previously: My iPhone 6s and iOS 9 Experience, iOS 9.2.

Update (2016-03-23): Nick Heer:

Apple does see this as a bug, but it’s inexplicable to me that it remains unfixed after three major iOS 9 updates.

Or, looking at it another way, even if Apple fixes it in the next update it will have been broken for more than half of iOS 9’s life.

Update (2016-05-17): Nick Heer:

One day, listening to music while taking a photo will once again be possible. I have hope.