Archive for September 19, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

iPhone 8 Reviews

John Gruber:

I’ve never owned a Plus-sized iPhone, and last year my review unit did not have the jet black finish, so I found the 8 Plus with glass back to be a revelation. I prefer it so much to any previous Plus-sized iPhone I’ve tested that it almost feels like a different form factor, not just a different material. I’ve always found the Plus unwieldy, and part of that is that aluminum is slippery enough that, combined with the size of the device, it just felt like something I had to consciously think about to avoid dropping. However, just like the jet black aluminum finish, the polished glass back of these new phones is grippier. That grippiness is a nice feature for the 4.7-inch size, but for the Plus, I think it’s a necessity — it makes it far more pleasant to hold and use.


Apple is confident in their improvements to HDR that with the iPhone 8, by default HDR is simply engaged automatically, and iOS no longer stores separate HDR and non-HDR images. HDR just turns on when iOS thinks you need it, and it simply leaves one image in your camera roll. The Settings app has options to enable manual HDR mode and to save HDR and non-HDR versions of images, but until I run into a problem, I’m sticking with the defaults. HDR is no longer something I need to think about.


Two or three hours into the flight, I needed to check something on my personal iPhone 7 — I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was something from an app I didn’t have installed on the review unit. When I took my iPhone 7 out of my pocket, my first thought was “What’s wrong with the display, why is everything gross and blue?” Then I remembered: True Tone.

The glass back sounds great. I’m still curious to see how the edges feel.

Matthew Panzarino:

The camera is the best reason to buy a new iPhone this year just as it has been several years running.


There are other smartphones that take excellent pictures, Samsung’s Galaxy S8+, the most direct competitor in terms of hardware that Apple has, among them. However, once you move beyond the basics of increasing resolution, basic optimization and adding catch-up computational features like faux blur, you begin to realize that there’s not a smartphone company on earth that takes it as far as Apple does. It’s just not comparable once you get into the nitty gritty. Here are a few examples you’ll find in the iPhone 8.


This is the first year that I’m not saying ‘if you like bigger screens get the bigger one, otherwise get the smaller one’ about iPhones. I flat out recommend the iPhone 8 Plus if you’re in the market for an upgrade and can possibly stand using the larger phone. Why? Portrait Lighting.

Rene Ritchie has links to lots more reviews.

Update (2017-10-09): Rob Griffiths:

Are any other iPhone 8 (Plus or non-plus) users seeing such scratches on their displays? I’m tempted to go visit the Apple Store with my phone, because I can’t believe this is normal, especially given how well the iPhone 7 (and all my prior phones) have resisted scratching.

iOS 11 Reviews

Nick Heer:

The differences in iOS 11, then, continue to balance new functionality with further complications. But this should be no surprise to those who have used Apple’s ecosystem of devices for several years; it is merely accelerating a trend of growing the features of iOS without forgetting its roots. iOS was, in many ways, a fresh start for the future of computing and each iteration of the OS has built upon that. Sometimes, as above, it feels as though these additions are moving a little too fast. I notice this most when additions or updates feel perhaps incomplete, or, at least, not wholly considered.


The new Dock, which allows for more efficient app switching, also seems to have played a role. But regardless of why it took so many years for such a natural interaction to debut on Apple’s touch devices, we should focus on the what of it. Is it good?

Oh, yes. Very.


In practice, though, this treatment means that the top quarter of the screen is used rather inefficiently in an app’s initial view. You launch Settings, for example, and the screen is dominated by a gigantic bold “Settings” label. You know you’re in Settings — you just launched it.


Fans of clarity and affordances in user interfaces will be delighted to know that buttons are back. Kind of.

The gigantic titles and generous spacing are especially annoying on the iPhone SE, as they take up a larger proportion of its already small display.

Federico Viticci:

With iOS 11, Apple’s iPad vision feels resolute again. Multitasking is blending with multitouch, giving drag and drop a new purpose; the Mac’s best features – from file management to the dock – have been rethought, simplified, and extended specifically for iOS.


iOS 11’s most notable redesigns, including the App Store and Control Center, lay new foundations and fix what didn’t work before. Refinements – in some cases, reversals of ideas that didn’t pan out – are one of iOS 11’s overarching themes.


But perhaps more importantly, unlike iOS 10, iOS 11 presents a cohesive narrative for both the iPad and iPhone. A story where, for the first time in years, the iPad is informing some of the design principles and features of the iPhone’s software.

Lukas Petr:

Perhaps my biggest complaint [about the new App Store] is the drastically reduced information density. You now see fewer apps in the viewport. Plus, at the Today tab, you see just one featured app at a time.


Contrary to what was said at WWDC, the new App Store actually has smaller amount of curated content at any given time. Why? Because all the carefully crafted lists inside individual categories are now gone.

Pierre Lebeaupin:

Why obsolete perfectly good 32-bit code and apps? I do not have all the answers, but I have a few. Let us first see why 64-bit is the better choice if we have to choose between the two, and why Apple chose not to maintain both.


iOS devices have traditionally been quite RAM-constrained, and even if that eased a bit in recent years, any RAM savings are worth taking: they allow more tabs to remain active without having to be reloaded, more apps to remain frozen and only have to be (quickly) thawed instead of having to be relaunched, etc., improving the overall experience. And so to keep having the 32-bit library stack loaded in RAM in most iOS devices just next to the 64-bit library stack was starting to look like a waste of precious resources.

Previously: iOS to Drop Support for 32-bit Apps, Apple and Design Details.

Update (2017-09-19): Wade Cosgrove:

Increased font weights across the board in iOS 11 are A+. So much easier on the eyes, even if not dramatically different.

It’s a shame this took so long since iOS 7 made everything thin, but it’s definitely appreciated.

Update (2017-09-21): Dan Masters:

“Big text is legibile, until it’s not. A lot of artist & page titles around Music just can’t be easily read because the font cuts them off.”

See also: Josh Centers.

Update (2017-09-25): Paul Haddad:

iOS 11’s large title navigation bars, yay or nay?

Update (2017-10-14): Pierre Lebeaupin:

I must wait even longer because the browser has to allow for the possibility for the gesture to be a drag and I must also move even less during that time because then the browser will interpret it as a drag.

Update (2017-10-28): Since updating to iOS 11, I’ve been having problems with OmniFocus not receiving background push notifications promptly, leading to it rarely synchronizing until after I manually open it.

I’m also seeing No Service quite often in areas where I used to have 2 bars. Flipping Airplane Mode on and off seems to fix it.

Update (2017-11-08): Hacker News discusses some of the bugs.

Apple and Design Details

Ryan Lau:

With my 4.7 inch iPhone 7 and iOS 11 GM at hand, there still exist quite a lot of unfinished feeling of Beta software. As a designer, I can’t help writing about my feelings.

I’m writing this to help people with realizing many details requiring further polishes, who hopefully includes folks at Apple and can push forward with changes to improve those details.

The unfinished feeling in iOS 11 mostly comes from UI and animation. UI elements in iOS are quite inconsistent, mixing a variety of UI elements, which might look quite similar but introduce a disconnected feeling for UX. The inconsistency of those elements majorly stems from those UI element updated in iOS 11, such as Large Title and new Search Bar. In my opinion, those newly introduced elements, which might be unfamiliar and new even to Apple engineers, have caused many inconsistent UI experience in iOS 11.

Michael Love:

This is justifiably damning - also suggests Apple is using a lot of custom UI controls they don’t share with devs.

Or, apparently, other Apple teams.

John Gruber:

On the stairs leading down from the lobby to the theater itself, the handrails are carved out of the stone walls. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like descending into a large bright atrium that was entirely carved out of stone. It feels built to last, to say the least.


The hands-on area looked beautiful, and the retractable wall is a nifty architectural trick. It looks like the wall is supposed to be there when the area is closed, and looks like there couldn’t be a wall there when the area is open. Several Apple employees I spoke with were particularly proud of the hands-on area. “Isn’t the hands-on area beautiful?” was an ice-breaking question I was asked in several conversations. Indisputably, the answer is yes. It’s beautiful. But from a practical standpoint it was the worst hands-on area I’ve seen at an Apple event. It was incredibly crowded, and nearly impossible to get your hands on any of the new iPhones, especially the iPhone X. There were way, way too few units available for the number of guests. An hour after the show had ended, the crowds were still three-deep around the sample tables. As a hands-on area after a major product introduction, this room fails the “design is how it works” test.

Brad Ellis:

Dudes, the white pads and watch stand bases match the curve of the table that matches the curve of the building.

John Gruber:

This is one of the two elevators on level P1 of the Apple Park Visitors Center parking garage.

I’m pretty sure Jony Ive has never visited level P1 of the Apple Park Visitors Center garage.

Cabel Sasser:

But this is how it is with construction — you can’t just use Interface Builder!

See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2017-09-21): See also: Mike Rundle.

No 4K iTunes Videos on iPad Pro or Mac

Sam Byford:

Apple didn’t make any mention at this week’s event of whether these 4K HDR movies would see any benefit on the iPad Pro, however. The short answer is yes, HDR works. But there are a few caveats.


Unfortunately, there’s no way to download the movies in 4K resolution — you just get 1080p files with HDR color and contrast. The iPad Pro doesn’t have a 4K screen, no, but the panels in both models have resolutions greater than 1080p to the point where you’d notice a significant difference in quality from a 4K file.

There’s also seemingly no way to download these 4K files on a Mac running the latest version of iTunes, even one connected to the Apple-approved LG UltraFine 4K monitor. It’s not clear whether the 4K or 5K iMacs will be able to play 4K movies from iTunes, either.

Previously: Apple TV 4K, Still a Hobby.