Apple's iPhone 13 has a lot to live up to after the iPhone 12's success

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CNET 11 September, 2021 - 07:05pm 33 views

What is Apple announcing in September?

Apple's next event, titled "California Streaming," will occur on Tuesday, September 14 at 10 a.m. ... It's expected that Apple will announce the iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 and new set of AirPods. ComputerworldPodcast: iPhone 13 announcement: What to expect at Apple's September 14 event

The iPhone 13 is coming: How big of a leap will it be, really?

Macworld 11 September, 2021 - 03:20pm

We took a closer look at what to expect from the A15 processor earlier this year. Still made with a 5nm manufacturing process, we can expect most of the improvements to the A15 to come from architectural changes and simply making the chip bigger. Which often means a little hotter and more power-hungry. (Apple is expected to increase the battery capacity to offset this.)

The short story here is that the A15 is probably going to be somewhere around 10-15 percent faster than the A14 present in the iPhone 12. If Apple finally moves to LPDDR5 memory, then specific tasks that are bottlenecked by memory bandwidth should be significantly faster than that. And the company will almost certainly lean hard into image processing and neural network performance.

Faster is always better, and we have no reason to believe that the A15 will be anything other than the fastest smartphone processor anywhere. The only thing is, there’s just nothing that really taxes the A14. Or for that matter, the A13. Your average person isn’t going to notice a significant difference in the things they do most (social media, web browsing, email, Messages, and so on) between a two-year-old iPhone and the one Apple releases this year. Without some spectacular new gotta-have-it software feature that just doesn’t run on a lesser SoC, the A15 won’t be a game-changer for your average iPhone user. We’ll probably only really appreciate the speed bump three years down the line when we notice that iOS 18 runs a lot better on an iPhone 13 than an iPhone 12.

Will the A15 chip run circles around the A14? Probably not.

While we probably won’t notice the improved performance of the A15 anywhere outside of a benchmark chart, we will almost certainly feel the improved smoothness and responsiveness of a 120Hz ProMotion display. If the iPad Pro is anything to go by, it makes a difference you can certainly feel when you scroll through your Twitter or Instagram feed.

Unfortunately, this feature is rumored to be limited to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, which seriously limits its reach. And while 120Hz displays definitely make things feel smoother, the touch responsiveness of the iPhone is already so good you’re not likely to notice a huge change there. It’s great for reducing Apple Pencil latency on the iPad Pro, but that’s not a consideration here unless Apple also announces iPhone support for its stylus.

So for those “Pro” buyers, this is an upgrade that even an average person might not notice. You’ll probably hear things from iPhone 12 Pro buyers like “it’s so much faster,” because smoother scrolling and interface animations have the effect of making things seem faster. But in reality, unless you’re comparing them side by side, it probably won’t be a huge deal.

We know the iPhone 13 will have improvements to the camera (every iPhone does!), but it’s not entirely clear what they may be. Some rumors state that the entire iPhone 13 lineup will get the LiDAR sensor, rather than just the Pro models. That makes AR apps run a little better and portrait mode work in the dark, but it’s really not a big deal. The camera array in leaked schematics shows a larger camera area with bigger cutouts for the lenses, which suggests a new lens array and possibly new larger sensors underneath. Some say autofocus is coming to the UltraWide camera, and Portrait Mode will be available while shooting video.

The iPhone 13’s camera will look like the iPhone 12’s camera, but will it take noticeably better photos?

All nice upgrades, but none of these are game-changers. This is the steady march of smartphone progress we’ve come to expect, and for your average everyday consumer, the difference between the quality of a “pull out your iPhone real quick and snap a pic for the Insta” on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 will not be huge. Professionals who pixel-peep at edge cases are probably going to see significantly improved performance in the most challenging scenarios, but daily snapshotting is likely to be pretty similar.

The next big advances in iPhone photography will probably come from very high-resolution sensors (48 megapixels vs. the 12 megapixels we’re used to) and new designs like periscope lenses that could allow for extreme optical telephoto. Those sorts of features have been rumored for the iPhone 14 next year, not the iPhone 13.

It’s rumored that the iPhone 13 will feature an always-on display somewhat similar to that on the Apple Watch. It’s unclear how this would work exactly, and what information would be shown, but this has huge potential. This is the sort of feature we hope to see on all iPhone 13 models, not just the Pro models, because it can change the way we use our iPhones. All that time they sit flat on a desk or table…it’s not difficult to pick up your iPhone to check the time or see if you have important notifications, but it’s far better not to have to!

Android phones have had this feature for years, with various implementations. At its most basic, simply being able to glance at the time without even reaching for your phone to turn it on is always useful, especially in a dark room, but there are so many other ways this could change the way we use our iPhones. We can only hope that if the iPhone 13 does have an always-on display, it’s on all the phones (not just the Pro models), and it’s somewhat customizable. If Apple does it right, an always-on display could be the marquee feature of the iPhone 13.

An always-on display could be one of the best reasons to buy an iPhone 13.

Shortly after the release of the iPhone 12, there were rumors that this year’s model would be the iPhone 12s. That doesn’t seem likely (Apple sort of retired the “S” branding back with the iPhone XS), but this does appear to be the same sort of upgrade we used to get with the “S” model iPhones. It’s got a new faster processor and a couple of new features, but the overall design hasn’t changed and everything else is the same but a little better.

Sure, there’s supposed to be a smaller notch and that’s nice, but it’s still a notch. Yeah, the cameras will be better, but it doesn’t appear we’re in for the kind of step-change we saw when Apple added a whole second or third camera module to the back. Face ID is said to still be the only biometric authentication, despite long-running rumors of Apple developing improved under-display fingerprint technology.

It’s enticing to think that Apple may still surprise us with some really important new feature that didn’t leak out to the rumor mill. It’s possible, but these days it seems to happen so rarely. Usually, we have a really good idea of what the new iPhone will bring before Apple unveils it and it’s unlikely the iPhone 13 launch is any different.

There’s nothing wrong with an iPhone that is, broadly speaking, basically the same as last year’s model but a bit better. Most people don’t upgrade every year, so they’re going to be floored by the improvement over their iPhone XS or XR. And it’s not like Apple is way behind its competitors and has to make huge leaps to catch up. Apple can’t reinvent the wheel every year and we shouldn’t expect them to, nor should we only consider the new iPhone to be good if it’s full of radical changes.

Three new iOS 15 features that we love, and three changes that we're still waiting for

XDA Developers 11 September, 2021 - 06:00am

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iOS 15, Apple’s upcoming update to its widely used mobile operating system, was unveiled in early June during the opening WWDC21 keynote. This update comes packed with both notable and tiny changes across the OS. However, it left some of us disappointed due to missing features we’d been hoping for. For what is a full version bump, iOS 15 is a small upgrade, relatively speaking. While it includes new features that make life slightly easier and more organized, it’s been considered underwhelming by some avid users.

Below are three features we really love about this upcoming version of iOS. They’re followed by three we’re disappointed Apple hasn’t added yet.

iOS 15 brings powerful additions to what used to be a simple and limited video calling app. This version allows scheduling and sharing FaceTime meeting links. They can be accessed from a web browser on almost any device, including Windows computers and Android phones. It’s an unprecedented move by Apple – the company notoriously known for its walled garden approach – but it was inevitable in the era of COVID, remote work, and calls. While FaceTime isn’t as feature-rich as Zoom and Google Meet, it can now make its privacy-focused approach to video conferencing available to a bigger audience. There’s an argument to be had on how well implemented Android and Windows support is, but we’re taking this one step at a time.

This facelift to FaceTime also comes with a Portrait Mode video effect for iPhones with the TrueDepth Camera (i.e. the ones with FaceID). That’s in addition to microphone mode controls (Standard, Voice Isolation, and Wide Spectrum) that make joining calls in noisy environments more doable. Note these camera and microphone effects can be used system-wide and implemented by third-party app developers.

Smart keyboard suggestions for FaceTime links are another small but handy addition to the app. Assuming you’re using Apple’s keyboard, you can type “video call” in any messaging app – or in a text field in any other app, but the feature makes more sense when chatting with people – and the keyboard will suggest a FaceTime link to insert straight into your message. This allows you to effortlessly invite someone you’re texting to a FaceTime call, without having to open the FaceTime app and create a link manually.

Another significant addition to FaceTime is SharePlay, which allows users to enjoy music, TV, and other content together. They can control each other’s Apple Music queues, watch Apple TV+ originals, or share what’s displayed on their phones’ screens. It also has an API that developers of third-party apps can implement to support the feature. While SharePlay will not be available in iOS 15 right on launch, we still expect to see it arrive in the coming weeks.

Apple’s native browser becomes more useful than ever in iOS 15 thanks to the introduction of third-party extension support. While Safari on iOS still hasn’t fully caught up with that of macOS (lack of website notifications support, for example), it’s one step closer to achieving that goal.

iOS 15 also redesigns Safari, introducing a Start Page with customizable, relevant content and wallpaper support. It moves the top website address bar to the bottom as well, making it more accessible for one-handed use. A welcome pull-to-refresh gesture has been added, and the top and bottom safe areas of the iPhone screen adapt to the colors of visited websites and switch colors accordingly.

Tab Groups make organizing and separating your work and personal lives easier than before. With dedicated groups for whatever topic/category, we can add as many relevant tabs to a group to make switching from a workspace to another a fast, effortless process.

The Weather app on iOS finally gets some love from Apple with iOS 15. It gets a modern icon and user interface, as well as new air quality measurements from BreezoMeter in supported regions. It’s still not available on iPad or Mac, due to reasons best known to Apple.

The redesign also adds new background animations to match almost every possible weather condition, regardless of the time of the day/night, in addition to a refreshed widget.

It’s 2021. Users will literally be able to control each other’s queues remotely with SharePlay this fall, yet for some unknown reason, Apple still hasn’t implemented an equivalent to Spotify Connect that would let us control music playback from any device signed in to the same Apple ID.

Additionally, the obstructive pop-up, whenever a song/playlist is added/removed to the library/queue, needs to go. But considering it took Apple over a decade to remove the similar volume pop-up, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see this behavior changing anytime soon. It would also be nice to have lyrics available for offline viewing when downloading a song; it’s an insignificant text file that wouldn’t have any effect on devices’ storage.

Having a choice only when it comes to setting default email and web browsing apps is nowhere near enough or satisfactory. With antitrust lawsuits hitting the company, it was expected Apple would expand default app support to music and maps, but that’s nowhere to be found. Users can now teach Siri which music app they prefer, but that still doesn’t make it a default one.

Compared to similar apps and rivals, Mail and Messages lack a lot of features. Starting with Mail, many options available on the web version of iCloud Mail are nowhere to be found on iOS, such as vacation auto-replies, aliases, and more. Plus, the iOS app feels and looks too simplified when compared to the Gmail app and its functionalities. 

As for Messages, it needs to catch up with IM apps. Despite some welcome changes in iOS 15 (photo collages and “Shared with you” sections), the app is still nowhere as feature-rich as popular instant messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp. The indexing of old messages is broken, loading older content takes ages, and searching through them is a pain.

Despite not being a major update, iOS 15 still brings noticeable changes that make iOS more useful — custom Focus modes, live text selection, redesigned notifications and their summaries, etc. We can only hope Apple adds some (or, wishful thinking, all?) of the features on our wishlist with iOS 16 next year.

iOS 15 is currently available in beta for both developers and public testers, and is expected to be released publicly this fall, in mid to late September after the new iPhones announcement event. iOS 15 will run on all devices that currently support iOS 14 (that’s a whopping 7 year software support for the iPhone 6S, so far).

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Apple Warns Vibrations Like Those From High-Power Motorcycle Engines Can Harm iPhone Cameras

MacRumors 10 September, 2021 - 05:50pm

The OIS and closed-loop AF systems in iPhone are designed for durability. However, as is the case with many consumer electronics that include systems like OIS, long-term direct exposure to high-amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges may degrade the performance of these systems and lead to reduced image quality for photos and videos. It is recommended to avoid exposing your iPhone to extended high-amplitude vibrations.

Due to this risk, Apple recommends that users not attach their iPhones directly to the chassis or handlebars of such motorcycles, as direct transmission of vibrations can be intense. Apple even recommends that users mounting their devices to lower-powered devices like mopeds and electric scooters at least use a vibration-dampening mount to minimize the chances of any damage.

First ride on the motorcycle and I think I toasted the camera in my iPhone. 8 miles. Crappy design. — James Chadbourne (@mack505) September 4, 2021

Apple has previously warned that OIS and closed-loop AF systems can similarly suffer from magnetic interference that degrades camera performance when used with certain ‌iPhone‌ accessories, although magnet-related issues tend to be temporary and can be remedied by simply removing the accessories. Vibrations can more easily result in permanent damage to the systems.

All ‌iPhone‌ models from the ‌iPhone‌ 7 onward, as well as the ‌iPhone‌ 6 Plus and ‌iPhone‌ 6s Plus, have OIS and/or closed-loop AF and are potentially affected.

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MagSafe Battery Pack support, the ability to merge two existing Apple Card accounts, HomePod timer management in the Home app, and more.

New features for FaceTime calls, tools to reduce distractions, a new notifications experience, added privacy features, complete redesigns for Safari, Weather, and Maps, and more.

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