Archive for October 15, 2018

Monday, October 15, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL

Nicole Nguyen (via John Gruber):

The Pixel 3 starts at $799, and Pixel 3 XL at $899. They can be preordered today and ship on Oct. 18. The phones come in two storage sizes, 64GB and 128GB, and three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and a new hue, Not Pink.

[…]

Google is selling its own wireless charger, called Pixel Stand, for $79. When the Pixel 3 is put on the stand, it goes into a “display assistant” mode and essentially turns the phone into a Google Home, where you can use voice commands to play music, see your calendar, and view photos.

[…]

The Pixel 3 doesn’t have a headphone jack, but it does come with USB-C earbuds.

[…]

But, bizarrely, the front-facing camera does have two lenses now. One is the normal 8-megapixel camera you’d expect, and the other is a wide-angle, GoPro-style lens with a 97-degree field of view (instead of 76 degrees in the normal lens).

Dieter Bohn (via David Chen):

You can see that the Pixel 3 is pulling more detail out of the shadows than the Pixel 2. It’s also going for a slightly warmer tone, especially with faces. In fact, I think it’s moved a little closer to the iPhone in terms of the image it’s trying to produce — but only a little bit. The iPhone XS is applying HDR effects too aggressively and overly brightening the shadows, as though it wants everything to be evenly lit. To me, it just looks off.

Here’s the default selfie camera, zoomed in a bit to show you some detail. Again, the Pixel 3 has much more detail while the iPhone XS feels a little bit over-smoothed. I’m not saying I’m a “Beautygate” truther here, but I definitely prefer the Pixel 3. It’s much more willing to let the light be what it’s going to be and not aggressively trying to flatten everything to the same level.

I’m still not sure what to make of the new iPhone cameras and Smart HDR feature. The failure mode is certainly bad: photos that look unnatural are way worse than photos with some areas in shadow. I’ve gone from initially being tempted to upgrade my iPhone SE mainly for the improved camera to wondering whether I should hold onto it or try to find a used iPhone X or an iPhone 8 until Apple gets its act together. We just don’t seem to have good information yet. I haven’t seen anything definitive about what the Smart HDR setting does or whether the “HDR garbage” still happens when it’s off. Reviewers have been comparing iPhone XS with Smart HDR on to other phones, rather than looking at how the same phone takes photos with different values of that setting.

Previously: iPhone XS Users Complain About Skin-Smoothing Selfie Camera.

Update (2018-10-15): See also: Josh Centers.

Update (2018-10-16): Juli Clover:

You can see all of the full resolution photos that we took with the Pixel 3 XL and the iPhone XS Max in this Imgur album that we created.

Update (2018-10-19): Mat Honan (Hacker News):

This is a great phone. I highly recommend it. But it's no longer totally clear to me that the information systems we've built to help us navigate life are net beneficial to society.

Update (2018-12-07): Matt Birchler:

As an example, here’s a selfie from the Pixel 3 with Night Sight and the iPhone Xs. The difference in some of these are pretty amazing.

Spaces, Apple’s Mostly Ignored macOS Productivity Feature

William Gallagher:

If you use Spaces on your Mac then you probably love this feature so much that you can’t imagine not having it. More likely, though, you’ve vaguely heard of it and not looked to see whether it could be of use to you.

Even Apple seems to have forgotten this feature as it received no updates at all for macOS Mojave —at least no visible ones —and unfortunately it has call to be updated. Right now certain elements feel oddly unfinished and others are downright confusing.

Spaces has been around since macOS 10.5, but it still feels unfinished. It never got full API support in Cocoa, so applications can’t really control which spaces their windows appear on, and neither can scripts. The system decides where new windows will appear, and you have to live with it.

The more complex a Spaces workflow you decide to use, the greater the chance that the system will mess it up, so it’s best to keep things simple. In general, Spaces is better at grouping windows by application rather than by task, which is unfortunate because it’s so natural to want to put separate tasks in separate spaces.

A simple case where this falls down is with state restoration. I often have Safari windows spread across multiple spaces: windows related to customer support in the first space, windows related to development in the second space, and windows related to blogging in the third space. If I quit and relaunch Safari, it restores the windows but combines them all into the current space. As far as I can tell, this is not a Safari bug; it’s just the way macOS’s window restoration feature works. And because there’s no Space API, it’s not possible for third-party apps like BBEdit—which has always had fantastic state restoration in other respects—to do it properly themselves.

Building DSLs in Swift

John Sundell:

So let’s take things one step further, and enable our above code to be used as a proper DSL. The first thing we’ll need is an execution context. One reason that DSLs can remove so much verbosity and cruft, is that they’re used in a very specific context, that itself already provides much of the information required to understand what the code does.

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For our context, we’ll take some inspiration from the UIView.animate API, and use a closure to encapsulate the usage of our DSL. All we need to make that happen is a simple extension on UIView that adds a method that in turn calls our context closure.

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Let’s see how we can improve our DSL using operators - starting with overloading the plus and minus operators to enable us to combine a layout anchor and a constant into a tuple - which’ll later let us act on them as one unit[…]

The Challenge of Just Fine

Chuq Von Rospach:

But the user me? I don’t care. I have an expensive Apple TV an expensive 4K monitor, and an expensive HomePod speaker, and I just want it all to work, because my expectation of Apple is to sweat the details and make it work.

And here I am, telling the TV that yes, it should use the HomePod as speakers again. For the fourth time today. That’s one of those small usability friction point that keeps me from wanting to use the Apple TV and leaves me feeling frustrated that it’s just not as good as it really is. It seems like a minor point — and again hashtag first world problems — but it’s the kind of thing that turns someone from a massive fan of a product into an “oh, it’s okay” person.

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A big part of what made Apple successful in its turnaround was a commitment to sweating the details and living or dying on “it solves your problem, and it just works”. And over the last few years, Apple’s lost that level of detail and commitment to quality. It’s all about sweating the details, and bluntly Apple’s not doing a great job of that right now.

Previously: Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth Car Receiver.

The Modern Hackintosh

Stephen Hackett:

This video recently caught my eye[…]

In it, Quinn Nelson walks through a $1,400 machine that gives my $5,000 iMac Pro a run for its money, despite having a worse GPU and an i7 CPU.

Nelson points out that these numbers may come down to cooling. The tower in his video, complete with a liquid CPU cooler, can run its components much harder than the iMac Pro, as it has the thermal headroom to do so.

Previously: Mac Sales Down in Q3 2018 Amid a Lack of Updates, On the Sad State of Macintosh Hardware, Building a Hackintosh Pro.

Sometimes It’s Better to Just Start Over With iCloud Photo Library Syncing

John Gruber:

I did some searching on the web and eventually stumbled on a thread that suggested signing out of iCloud and then signing back in. This makes some sense, because all of these Continuity features go through iCloud. So I did that on the iPhone, and, long story short, that seemed to fix the issue. After one more reboot of the phone, Instant Hotspot was working perfectly.

[…]

Effectively, I think what happens is that when you turn off iCloud Photo Library, it leaves all the photos and videos on your phone in your local library. When you turn iCloud Photo Library back on, it has no idea which of the items in your local iPhone library are duplicates of items in your iCloud library, and so it has to check them one by one. Whatever algorithm it’s using for this is slow as molasses.

[…]

So if you temporarily turn off iCloud Photo Library and turn it back on, it might be easier to just delete all your photos from your iPhone first, and let them all sync back from iCloud.