Monday, January 1, 2018

Gruber on the iPhone X

John Gruber (tweet, Hacker News):

With the iPhone X, Apple is attempting something I believe to be unprecedented — a complete ground-up rethinking of a fabulously popular and successful platform, without a disruptive, painful transition.


Apple hasn’t called attention to this, but effectively there are two versions of iOS 11 — I’ll call them “iOS 11 X”, which runs only on iPhone X, and “iOS 11 Classic”, which runs on everything else.


The iPhone X display does not, alas, offer the ProMotion feature introduced with the latest iPad Pros, which allows for dynamic screen refresh rates of up to 120 Hz. But it does track touch input at 120 Hz, double the rate of all other iPhones. The result of this is that the animations for gestures track your finger better. It feels less like an animation that is playing in response to your touch and more like your finger is actually manipulating and moving things on screen as though they are real objects.


Thanks to Face ID, no-PIN “slide to unlock” is back. This, to me, epitomizes the iPhone X. In ways small and large, it changes fundamental aspects of using an iPhone. But it does so in ways that are faithful to the spirit of the original iPhone.


When an alarm from the built-in Clock app fires, it fades out in volume as soon as you look at the display. This is utterly charming.


I would love to see Apple introduce a smaller iPhone SE-sized phone with all the same features and design elements. I’m not holding my breath, but I’d love to see it. I’m not even saying I personally would prefer it (but I’d give it a try) — but it would be great for people who value one-handed reachability.


Why not bring more of what’s different on iPhone X to the other iPhones running iOS 11? iPhone X needs these gestures because it doesn’t have a home button. Classic iPhones could have supported them though — there’s no reason Apple couldn’t have added the swipe-up-from-bottom-to-go-home gesture to all iOS devices. And they could have then moved Control Center to a swipe down from the top right corner on all devices, too.

Previously: iPhone X Buttons and Gestures.

Update (2018-01-09): Riccardo Mori:

When now I read that the iPhone X is ‘the future of the smartphone’ or that ‘the future is here’, it just rings hollow. Why is it the future of the smartphone? The only feature that feels mildly futuristic is Face ID. As for the rest, what about it? It has very good specifications, very good cameras, a very good display… But I don’t understand what the big deal is, essentially. iPhone X users will probably say that the device is more than just the sum of its parts; that it’s the overall experience that ultimately makes the difference. But I still don’t see what makes the experience on this device truly stand out compared with, say, an iPhone 8.

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