Huawei the Copycat

Huawei has replaced Samsung as the top Apple Ripoff Artist. Let’s also not forget they’ve been caught trying to pass off DSLR pictures as phone camera samples.

But for now, check out Huawei’s latest nova 3 phones compared to the iPhone X Apple released just last September:

Huawei doesn’t stop at copying the hardware. They copy the product photography styles and angles too.

But why stop there? Why not copy the wallpaper styles too:

I wouldn’t be able to feel proud of my work if all it entailed was reacting to what other people made and trying to copy it as closely as possible.

Yesterday was Apple’s Keynote where they announced the new iPhone Xs. I’m curious how long it will take Huawei to update their own product line to match.

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Influencer

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Teens prefer iPhones.

Business Insider reports on something we already know: Teenagers prefer iPhone to Android:

American teenagers continue to deeply prefer Apple’s iPhone to phones running Android.

82% of teens of teens currently own an iPhone, according to Piper Jaffray’s “Teens Survey,” which questions thousands of kids across 40 states with an average age of 16.

That’s up from 78% in last fall, and it’s the highest percentage of teen iPhone ownership Piper’s seen in its survey.

I’m suspicious of any teen carrying an Android phone. They’re not to be trusted.

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Consumer, Product

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Apple Watch doesn’t need more apps.

Slack is the latest app to ditch the Apple Watch:

Like Twitter, Amazon, and Google Maps before it, Slack is ditching its Apple Watch app. The team chat and collaboration platform for businesses quietly announced the news via an update to its iOS app. But, that doesn’t mean Slack will disappear entirely from your wrist.

You’ll still be able to respond to incoming messages on your Apple Watch courtesy of rich notifications — all that’s absent is the ability to view unread mentions. So, you may not be missing much after all, which sums up the essential problem with dedicated Apple Watch apps.

This move makes sense. The Apple Watch isn’t the iPhone.

For me Apple Watch is a glanceable, health-tracking, message notifier that unlocks my MacBook when I wake it up (my favorite feature).

I have no need for the apps on my Apple Watch to mirror the ones on my iPhone.

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Interface, Mobility, Product

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Apple Offers iPhone Battery Replacements

Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdown drama, will offer $29 battery replacements for a year:

Apple just published a letter to customers apologizing for the “misunderstanding” around older iPhones being slowed down, following its recent admission that it was, in fact, slowing down older phones in order to compensate for degrading batteries. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” says the company. “We apologize.”

Apple says in its letter that batteries are “consumable components,” and is offering anyone with an iPhone 6 or later a battery replacement for $29 starting in late January through December 2018 — a discount of $50 from the usual replacement cost. Apple’s also promising to add features to iOS that provide more information about the battery health in early 2018, so that users are aware of when their batteries are no longer capable of supporting maximum phone performance.

It’s bullshit Apple had to be called out this, but they’ve apologized and offered a reasonably priced solution.

I just upgraded from an iPhone 6 Plus to an iPhone X, but I think it’s still worth it to replace the battery on my 6 Plus.

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Product, Technology

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Confirmed: Apple Slows Down Older Devices

Ever notice – like I have – that your iPhone gets slower when you update to the latest version of iOS? A comment thread on Reddit started a few weeks ago on this topic and it hit the tech news sites this week.

Apple has since responded (via iMore):

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices”, Apple told iMore. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

This is a shitty way for Apple to get busted doing something they claim is by design.

I agree with what Marco Arment said on Twitter yesterday:

For years, we’ve reassured people that no, Apple doesn’t secretly slow down their older iPhones to make them buy new ones.

If this must be done, it should be a setting. If it’s on by default, the user should be alerted the first time it happens.

I have a 6-year-old Retina iPad 3 running iOS 9 and it’s for this very reason I haven’t updated it. And it’s also for this reason that it’s performance is still fairly snappy.

I’ve never needed confirmation from Apple that my devices were slowing down when I updated them.

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Technology

They call it a dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.*

Over at The Verge, Dan Seifert has a interesting look into Samsung and their goals behind the new S8:

“We have a dream to overcome Apple.”

With that simple, obvious statement, the air was sucked out of the large conference room in Samsung’s Suwon, South Korea, headquarters before the company even had a chance to show me the device I flew halfway across the world to see. It’s not often that you hear someone at Samsung actually verbalize the unsaid motivation for many of the company’s products — most executives won’t even mention Apple by name. Yet here was the company’s vice president of product strategy just blurting it out to a small group of journalists.

It seems marketshare isn’t always enough and doesn’t always make you feel like the best. It was only in Q4 2016 that Apple regained the #1 spot in market share. Before this past Q4 Samsung had been the reigning champ.

One of the S8’s flagship features is their new AI ‘bright sidekick’, Bixby:

It’s a smart play: Samsung knows it can’t compete with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others when it comes to raw machine learning power and putting vast amounts of information at your fingertips, so it’s using Bixby to solve a simpler task, one that those companies have largely ignored. Bixby isn’t going to try to be the everything-assistant. Instead, it will be that “bright sidekick” that complements those other services. It’s a new user interface, not a new way to ask how tall the Eiffel Tower is.

Wow, less capable than Siri and ‘Ok, Google’. Sounds like a must-have feature!

Seifert had a nagging thought that quelled his optimism for the S8:

As I watched brand-new S8 phones get bolted together on Samsung’s new production line in the Gumi factory, it was obvious that the company has a plan for designing great hardware in the wake of the Note 7 fiasco. But as much as I knew that the devices coming off that factory line would have amazing hardware and eye-catching design, I couldn’t escape a nagging thought.

I realized that there’s a thing that many pro users do when they get their hands on a new Samsung smartphone: they immediately disable as many of Samsung’s own apps and services as possible and replace them with Google’s versions. The appreciation for Samsung’s design and hardware rarely extends to its software efforts.

Samsung makes Android phones, so the only way (outside of hardware) they can distinguish themselves from all the other Android phone makers is to make a unique software experience and people are disabling their software features.

Ouch.

Good luck with that dream, Samsung.

*the title of this piece was borrowed from George Carlin

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Product, Technology

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The Mature Smartphone Market

The end of smartphone innovation:

This autumn Apple will release a new iPhone design, and the fact that it postponed a new design and kept the 6 design for three years instead of two suggests it has something that will attract attention. However, it will really still ‘just’ be another iPhone. Meanwhile, we have some indications that Apple is working on AR glasses (of which more later) and certainly was working on a car project – but neither of these is likely to see a mass-market consumer release for a year or two at the least (cars perhaps longer). So, expect a lot more ‘innovation dead at Apple!’ stories.

This is paralleled at Android, I think: the new developer release of version ‘O’ has lots of good work and solid worthy stuff, but nothing world changing. Again, the cry will go up, “innovation is dead!”

Evans is skeptical on voice being the next hot tech. He’s more bullish on augmented reality (AR).

It seems like only yesterday the iPhone was released, but in reality it debuted 10 years ago this past January. The smartphone market is mature, so everyone is anxious about what comes next.

Like every other tech company, Apple’s goal now is not to predict the post-iPhone future, but to invent it.

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Product, Technology

A Coke is a Coke

Low-cost Android One phones reportedly coming to the US:

Google’s Android One platform was originally designed to provide low-cost Android devices to developing markets without the stuff that usually comes with low-cost Android devices: bloatware, competing services, and a crippling lack of software and security updates. Now, according to a report from The Information, the program is about to make it’s way to the US market to help solve those problems.

And on regular software updates:

Google also has a stake in ensuring that as many Android devices as possible are upgraded on a regular basis, not just for features but also for security updates.

Imagine that: It’s 2017 and there exist a whole market of shitty, low end Android devices that can’t be updated on a regular basis, filled with bloatware.

This has never been a problem with any of the iPhones I’ve owned.

It reminds me of this great quote from Andy Warhol:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

When you buy an iPhone 7 it’s the same iPhone 7 your favorite actress owns and it’s the same one the cashier at the grocery store owns. When you buy an Android phone, it could lie anywhere on the spectrum of Amazing to Crappy.

This distinction between iPhones and Android phones can’t be overemphasized.

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Product, Technology

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“These are not three separate devices. This is one device! And we are calling it iPhone.”

To mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Brian McCullough posted a new episode of The Internet History Podcast on the history of the iPhone.

It’s a great episode and it’s also a sobering reminder of how primitive, crude and buggy the original iPhone was. It launched on AT&T’s shitty EDGE network (pre 3G), couldn’t record video, didn’t have multi-tasking, didn’t have Siri, and didn’t have GPS, to name just a few things we take for granted in 2017.

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Product, Technology

Jaded and Fickle

Farhad Manjoo doesn’t think Apple is cutting edge anymore:

The absence of a jack is far from the worst shortcoming in Apple’s latest product launch. Instead, it’s a symptom of a deeper issue with the new iPhones, part of a problem that afflicts much of the company’s product lineup: Apple’s aesthetics have grown stale.

Apple has squandered its once-commanding lead in hardware and software design. Though the new iPhones include several new features, including water resistance and upgraded cameras, they look pretty much the same as the old ones. The new Apple Watch does too. And as competitors have borrowed and even begun to surpass Apple’s best designs, what was iconic about the company’s phones, computers, tablets and other products has come to seem generic.

And

It’s not just that a few new Apple products have been plagued with design flaws. The bigger problem is an absence of delight. I recently checked in with several tech-pundit friends for their assessment of Apple’s aesthetic choices. “What was the last Apple design that really dazzled you?” I asked.

This article could have been written 5 years ago. If people keep writing ‘Apple is Doomed’ stories, I suppose there’s a chance they’ll eventually come true.

I’m curious if automobile news sites complain that the Porsche 911 doesn’t delight anymore. That the design is basically the same as was last year and the year before that.

Perhaps the problem isn’t with Apple’s design chops, design chops I feel are still top notch. Perhaps the problem is with Manjoo and people like him. It’s easy to become jaded and fickle. It’s as if people expect (demand?) the things they buy will solve all their problems and constantly delight them in the process.

I think what happened is Manjoo was given a creative writing assignment: Apple presented a great, albeit iterative product lineup, we need you to show us why is was shit. If this was the case, Manjoo was doing a great job until the last two paragraphs:

And while Apple has slowed its design cadence, its rivals have sped up. Last year Samsung remade its lineup of Galaxy smartphones in a new glass-and-metal design that looked practically identical to the iPhone. Then it went further. Over the course of a few months, Samsung put out several design refinements, culminating in the Note 7, a big phone that has been universally praised by critics. With its curved sides and edge-to-edge display, the Note 7 pulls off a neat trick: Though it is physically smaller than Apple’s big phone, it actually has a larger screen. So thanks to clever design, you get more from a smaller thing — exactly the sort of advance we once looked to Apple for.

So Apple’s design prowess is in trouble, but Samsung continues to make smartphones that are practically identical to the iPhone. So this means what? Samsung’s industrial design is superior to Apple’s?

And then comes Manjoo’s final caveat:

An important caveat: Samsung’s software is still bloated, and its reputation for overall build quality took a hit when it announced last week that it would recall and replace the Note 7 because of a battery defect that caused spontaneous explosions. To the extent that making a device that doesn’t explode suggests design expertise, Apple is still ahead of Samsung.

Ok, so Apple continues to break sales records with their phones, has top-rated customer satisfaction but somehow, “The real danger is in Apple’s long-term reputation.” Not Samsung’s reputation because I guess we all know they’re rip-off artists so they get a pass.

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Product, Technology

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“Android freezes up”

Over at DOD Buzz, Matthew Cox reports the, “U.S. Army Special Operations Command is dumping its Android tactical smartphone for an iPhone model“:

The iPhone 6S will become the end-user device for the iPhone Tactical Assault Kit — special-operations-forces version Army’s Nett Warrior battlefield situational awareness tool, according to an Army source, who is not authorized to speak to the media. The iTAC will replace the Android Tactical Assault Kit.

The iPhone is “faster; smoother. Android freezes up” and has to be restarted too often, the source said. The problem with the Android is particularly noticeable when viewing live feed from an unmanned aerial system such as Instant Eye, the source said.

When trying to run a split screen showing the route and UAS feed, the Android smart phone will freeze up and fail to refresh properly and often have to be restarted, a process that wastes valuable minutes, the source said.

“It’s seamless on the iPhone,” according to the source. “The graphics are clear, unbelievable.”

“Open always wins,” right?

Maybe not.

via Daring Fireball

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Tesla Means Something

Sharp take by Ben Thompson on the new Tesla Model 3 and the parallels of Tesla to Apple:

When it comes to the iPhone I have argued that Apple’s smartphone was, relative to the phones on the market, Obsoletive: the iPhone effectively reduced the phones that came before it to apps on a general purpose computer, justifying a higher price even as it made cheaper incumbents obsolete.

This doesn’t quite work for Tesla: at the end of the day a Model S is still doing the same job as a traditional BMW or Mercedes-Benz. It just does it better: a Model S accelerates faster, it has more storage, it has innovative features like limited auto-pilot and a huge touch-screen interface, and you don’t have to stop at the gas station. Most importantly, though, it is a Tesla.

The real payoff of Musk’s “Master Plan” is the fact that Tesla means something: yes, it stands for sustainability and caring for the environment, but more important is that Tesla also means amazing performance and Silicon Valley cool. To be sure Tesla’s focus on the high end has helped them move down the cost curve but it was Musk’s insistence on making “An electric car without compromises” that ultimately led to 276,000 people reserving a Model 3, many without even seeing the car: after all, it’s a Tesla.

Thompson refutes the Clayton Christensen’s idea of ‘disruptive innovators’ like he and many others claim Apple and Tesla to be. It’s the strength of the Tesla and Apple brands that allows them to do and achieve what they do, not because they’re necessarily disruptive.

Put that in your disruptive pipe and innovatively smoke it, Christensen.

3D Touch

Interesting to see how iOS apps are taking advantage of 3D Touch:

Flickr may have my favorite twist on 3D Touch so far, with a slight change to how peek works. When you’re previewing a photo in your camera roll, Flickr lets you scrub from side to side to quickly see more pictures. It’s a small change, but as soon as you try it, you wonder why Apple didn’t figure this out in the first place — it ought to be in the iPhone’s camera roll, and maybe even everywhere there’s a gallery of photos. Unfortunately, Flickr has only implemented this so far for your own overall camera roll; it doesn’t work inside of albums or for other users, and it totally should. (Flickr does, however, let you do a standard peek at most profiles, photos, albums, and notifications.)

I’m looking forward to getting an iPhone 7 next year.

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