Design Is About Making Decisions

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

So Samsung introduced two new flagship phones: the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge. The Edge has a display with pronounced curves along the sides. The regular S6 is flat. Why do both of these phones exist? They’re not different sizes. Either the curved edge is a good idea or it’s not. Design is making decisions.

Difficult to argue with that.

Forget the fact that Samsung has created a device that is a return to the days of them shamelessly copying Apple's design queues; the real crime here is going half-in on two designs. If Samsung don't know which one they think is best then how the hell am I supposed to know?

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have a real differentiator: screen size. They're meant for different people with different use-cases – much like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4. But these two Galaxy S6 phones? Same size, no significant difference in hardware or software features (read: features, not design). So why do both exist?

For me the Edge is the better looking phone and the curved screen edges have legitimate uses and advantages, it seems weird to say this about a Samsung product but it's true – this thing isn't a gimmick. All that considered, why does the regular S6 model even exist at all?

Technically Correct Podcast: Darn The Cabinets

This episode was light on topical discussion. We briefly talked about the FCC's net neutrality ruling and the Samsung Galaxy S6. After that, things descend to lossless audio, 90s nostalgia, and a reinvntion of the filesystem specifically for iOS 6... how can you not be intrigued?

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Tips For Taking Great Photos With Your iPhone

Speaking of outstanding photographs shot with an iPhone, David McCrindle has some practical and very effective tips for capturing great images with your iOS device.

Apple just posted a glorious page highlighting the power of the iPhone 6 camera. The carefully curated gallery is a wonderful example of what such a small camera do. However, it unfortunately promotes every photographer’s annoyance that it’s the camera that takes really great pictures. As much praise as I can give the tech, the photographer also helps.

Click through to David's post. Good advice all round.

Outstanding Photos Taken With an iPhone 6

Apple has collected together some amazing shots taken with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Really quite remarkable.

Some of these have been edited on the phone using other apps. VSCO Cam seems a popular one, which is an app I've never really taken to. My advice for people wanting to take great images with their iPhone is use the tap to focus feature properly, take your time editing with sliders in the Photos app, and do fine tuning with Snapseed.

Probably The Only Phone "Case" I'd Ever Consider Using

AppleWorld.Today takes a look at using "Bumpies" to provide protection for your iPhone 6.

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These are the most compelling thing I've seen by far. I've never viewed the gains from putting a case on your phone worth the trade-offs of ugiliness, cheapness, and — most importantly — bulkiness. These however are tiny and protect the front and back from touching surfaces when placed down on a table etc.

I think they just look a little wierd is the problem. I'll continue caseless like a puritan I think, but some of you may be compelled.

Changes Afoot For Apple Stores

Tim Cook made an unannounced visit to the Covent Garden Apple store in London yesterday. The Telegraph sat down with Cook for a chat, lots of good stuff in the piece, this particularly intterested me:

The launch of the watch will undoubtedly pose a challenge for Apple's stores. "We've never sold anything as a company that people could try on before", he says. This may require "tweaking the experience in the store", he told his staff at the Covent Garden store.

He speaks extremely highly of Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry boss who now runs the stores and has been tasked with making the online and bricks and mortars elements work seamlessly.

It'll be interesting to see how selling a $5,000+ watch will change how Apple retail stores are laid out and operate. I think it's fair to say that Angela Ahrendts hasn't had a chance to put her stamp on them yet.

Stop Wasting Money On Two-Year Phone Contacts

Joanna Stern makes the case for buying your phone unlocked and having the freedom to switch carriers whenever it best suits you.

This is something I have been preaching for some time now. Every phone I have owned since 2011 I have bought unlocked and while the up-front cost may be significantly more, the SIM-only deals here in the UK are so cheap that over the course of three-and-a-half years I have saved hundreds of pounds.

Carriers only give you a subsidy because they can make more money by spreading the cost and then some over a twenty-four month period. It may seem less painful to you but it's completely insane to agree to it – it's costing you extra cash!

Start saving for your next phone now and buy it unlocked when it's released. Free yourself from your carrier and save a ton of cash in the process.

Technically Correct Podcast: Stronger Than The Wood Itself

This week Simon, Richard and I speak about Lenovo's decision to compromise their customers' security with adware tool 'Superfish', two banking apps in the UK integrating TouchID, the leaked information about the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6, and the recent hires that Apple has been making.

We also discover that Peugeot make more thahn cars and probably find it funnier than we should.

The Technically Correct Podcast is supported by Hover. Hover provide simplified domain management — check them out today!

Google, Yahoo, Facebook, & Apple Show Their True Colours

Bloomberg:

The top executives of Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Facebook Inc. won’t attend President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity summit on Friday, at a time when relations between the White House and Silicon Valley have frayed over privacy issues.

Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt all were invited but won’t attend the public conference at Stanford University, according to the companies. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook is planning to be at the event, where Obama is scheduled to give the keynote speech and have a private lunch with a select group of attendees.

To not attend, to not even sit down at the table to debate, is flat out disrespectful to your consumers and the American public at large. How can you let this opportunity just pass by?

Tim Cook showed up and made a short speech (see below) – it's obvious who cares about securing your data and who doesn't give two hoots. What surprises me is that Google, Facebook, and Yahoo are so brash in their apathy, I assumed they would at least put up a thinly veiled facade of phoney interest.

  • Swipe at the Google/Facebook business model – check
  • Empassioned about protection of user's data – check
  • A personal touch: "people being free to love who they want" – check

Tim Cook at his best. It's obvious how much he cares about this issue and this isn't the first time he's shown it.

US Government Embraces Pay

Steven Sande, Appleworld.Today:

Among the agencies to accept Apple Pay will be the National Park Service, the United States Postal Service, the Kennedy Space Center (tours and gift shops, rocket rides not included), the Smithsonian Institution museums, and US Customs and Border Protection.

Apple is also working with Visa, MasterCard, Comerica Bank and US Bank to make Apple Pay available for federal payment cards such as DirectExpress and GSA SmartPay cards. This would allow federal employees to use those cards -- in a tokenized, encrypted Apple Pay format -- for purchases as mundane as buying gas for a fleet car.

Can't get much more of a ringing endorsement that Uncle Sam itself.

I was orginally skeptical about Pay's ability to catch on but it's off to a very strong start. I wish it were available here in the UK.

Why I Can't Wait For Photos on OS X

Serenity Caldwell has a great piece at iMore covering everything we can expect from Photos.app when it comes to OS X sometime in the next few months, and I for one am really looking forward to it making an appearance on my MacBook Air.

I'm a keen photographer, shooting with my Canon EOS 600D. I've learned a lot from using it over the past year and I'm really happy with the camera and my ability to shoot good photos with it. I'll likely be aquiring some more lenses this year and getting to grips with them as the next step in my photography education. What I'm not happy with are the editing tools available to me right now.

Currently I use iPhoto for editing my shots. It's not great. Not even close. The app is slow, clunky, terrible at managing photographs on my behalf, and not really powerful enough. I'm caught between a rock and a hard place right now. I can either soldier on with iPhoto, knowing that I'm not getting the best out of my photos, or I can invest a significant amount of time and energy learning how to use a professional photography editing app like Lightroom. The problem with the latter option is that I just don't have the necessary time to invest in learning how to use Lightroom effectively. Added to the fact that I've become increasingly frustrated with iPhoto recently after some really nice photo editing tools on iOS have come to the fore, and I'm left stranded in the middle of two very polar options on my Mac.

I am hoping — and it sure looks likely — that Photos.app will be the much needed solution I crave. In videos of the beta it's clear that the app is quick and snappy, which is an istant plus. More importantly though is the editing tools. With iOS 8 the editing tools bulit into the Photos app became truly powerful, I use them all the time on my iPhone, adjusting the highlights, exposure, colour stauration, etc of all my photos. I can do more with these basic tools on iOS in about 90% of situations than I can do on my Mac with iPhoto, it's crazy to me how much better these silders in iOS 8 are. Coupled with the tools found in the Snapseed app I can do some truly great work with photos on my iPhone and iPad now. This is why I'm so glad to see that Apple is bringing the same slider tools found in iOS over to OS X. I'm also looking forward to another possibility: it's been strongly hinted that Photos may well allow other apps to inegrate with it, in an "extensions-like" way. This would be marvellous. It would allow me to slowly bolt-on extra editing tools at my own pace and learn how to use them one-by-one, this is much less overwhelming a prospect than diving into Lightroom and learning on the fly.

The last huge positive as I see it is the photo management system, which — like the editing tools — mirrors it's iOS counterpart. This is great news for someone like me who just does minimal management of their photos and wants the app to pick up the slack. I'll create collections based on location and albums for my best work, but beyond that I just want the app to handle everything else for me in a relatively decent way. I know from my experience on iOS that this is what I'll get with Photos.app from the collections view.

Ultimately my aim will be to take my expertise to a higer level and learn how to use Lightroom to it's potential. But Photos.app looks like it's going to let me learn to walk before I try learning to run, which I'm very much thankful for.

The Verge takes you through some of the new features in Photos for Mac which will be available sometime in spring.

Carl Ichan is at it Again

On August 13, 2013, when Apple was trading at just $66.77, we originally notified our twitter followers of our conversations with Tim Cook and of our request that Apple take advantage of its excess liquidity by repurchasing its dramatically undervalued shares. Despite significant share appreciation over a relatively short timeframe to $122 per share, we believe the same opportunity exists for Apple today.

This guy is an asshole.

I agree that Apple's shares are likely to be undervalued. If you compare their P/E ratio with that of similar stocks right now then logic will tell you this is the case. But to ask Apple to step in with another buyback to fill the void in confidence of investors is not in the best interests of the company, it's merely in the best interests of your greed.

Apple already bended to Ichan's will somewhat in 2013 and he's back again demanding more. You cannot reason with this guy, it will never be enough. Far better to just ignore him and if he sells up, fine. Take the hit, move on, and be healthier for it in the long run.

Smartphone Thefts Falling Sharply

Steven Sande writing at AppleWorld.today, the sucessor to the now shuttered Unofficial Apple Weblog:

In San Francisco, iPhone theft dropped 40 percent, while New York saw a 25 percent decline. Perhaps the most impressive decline was in London, where smartphone theft was cut in half.

This is great news for smartphone owners. I love having the peace of mind that Apple's Activation Lock feature offers, coupled with all of the other features that Find My iPhone offers .

It's worth noting that Android OEMs are catching up in this regard too, with many manufacturers implementing similiar security features which has helped thefts fall so dramatically. There's still some way to go for Android, as Steven notes that the figures show that iPhone thefts have fallen sharper than Android, but it's generally looking like good news for everyone across the board – well, except for criminals.

Technically Correct Podcast: I Love My Penny Farthing

Posting this a bit late but last week's episode was a little different from our usual fare. Richard's recent test drive of a Tesla car inspires a discussion about where technology is pushing cars and how things may change over the coming years.

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Android Sales Fall For The First Time In History

Charles Arthur, The Overspill:

Android shipments have always increased from quarter to quarter, both for “Google Android” and AOSP, since the platform’s first phone. (Unlike pretty much every other research company, ABI also breaks its Android figures down into “Google Android” – ie Google Mobile Services certified, carrying all Google’s services – and “AOSP” – principally, China.)

You can see the actual figures in more detail below. It's quite an astounding turnaround from what we've been used to for the last 5 or so years, wether this is a one-off anomaly data point or a trend that's set to develop remains to be seen but nonetheless, it's interesting stuff.

Apple also took home 93% of the smartphone market profit last quarter, continuing the trend of achiving relatively modest sales (15-20% of the market) but maintaining a much higher average selling price than everyone to take home virtually all the cash. Samsung took the remainder of the profits in the market and all the other OEMs either broke even or made losses.

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