The Day After the [Patches] Before

My office implemented both Meltdown and Spectre patches over the weekend…

In the previous weeks, both the Meltdown and Spectre processor vulnerabilities have been making a great deal of news. At my office – a financial firm – a Windows shop running Windows 7 (like most of the business world), implemented Windows based patches this past weekend. The results, especially in some of our older hardware, haven’t been very good. Thankfully, those machines are non-critical, non-business systems: For example, those that are used to display presentations in a conference room during a meeting. Unfortunately, the performance on those machines is atrocious. They are nearly unusable.

To understand what’s going on with those machines and why they now suck beyond all relief, we have to understand what the vulnerabilities are and what’s needed to patch both of them.

Meltdown Logo

Meltdown effects both x86 and ARM based microprocessors and allows rogue processes read all memory, even if unauthorized to do so. Meltdown effects nearly ALL processors used today. Resolution of this vulnerability will require a hardware revision, or effectively a new processor. For most computers – laptops especially – this isn’t likely to happen. Replacing a laptop’s microprocessor is expensive, and is likely not possible, as it would also require new system boards and supporting chipsets.

The only way to resolve this vulnerability is to come up with some level of operating system patch. Most of the operating systems used today have been, or are in the process of being, patched, including iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows.

Unfortunately, Meltdown patches are likely to cause performance issues, especially in older machines. The vulnerability makes all memory, including cache memory accessible. The patch works by constantly flushing the cache, making the computer work harder to put information back into it, where it can be read quickly. Unfortunately, since the cache is constantly being flushed, the computer is often forced to read it back into memory from the hard drive, slowing things down. In some cases, this happens far too often, forcing your computer’s hardware to fight against its operating system, putting it into a constant read loop. By the time the drive has read ahead enough information, its likely had the cache flushed, requiring it to start over again.

Spectre Logo
Spectre is a vulnerability that effects modern processors that perform branch prediction, or a way to predetermine possible execution outcomes allowing for speed of computations and actions. When the computer doesn’t predict where “you’re going” correctly, your computer may leave observable side effects that may reveal private data to hackers. For example, if the pattern of memory accesses performed by such speculative execution depends on private data, the resulting state of the data cache constitutes a side channel through which an attacker may be able to extract information about the private data using a timing attack.

There are two common vulnerabilities and exposure IDs related to Spectre, one for bounds check bypass and one for branch target injection. JIT engines used for JavaScript were found vulnerable. A website can read data stored in the browser for another website, or the browser’s memory itself.

Unfortunately, Spectre patches are also known to cause performance issues; and they have been reported to significantly slow down a PC’s performance, especially, again, on older computers. On newer, 8th generation Intel processors, performance has been known to take a 2% to 14% hit.

With both of these patches on your machine, your current computing experience is likely totally hosed, no matter what generation processor you have or how much computing power you possess.

For example, if you do anything with any kind of video, you’re going to have an especially hard time. Patches for both of these vulnerabilities are likely to result in a performance hit of anywhere between 10% to as much as 50%. As a result, graphic and video renders can take up to twice as long to complete, if they don’t just crash your machine.

However, it isn’t all gloom and doom. There does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Fixes for Spectre aren’t easy to implement. The problem is likely going to be around for quite some time. However, while a great deal of the vulnerabilities are executed through Java Script, and therefore while you’re surfing the web, Browsers such as Chrome, and Firefox are implementing other processes on top of the OS level patches you likely already have. You could also completely eliminate browser based exploits for both Meltdown and Spectre by disabling JavaScript all together.

It has also been suggested that the cost of mitigation can be alleviated by processors which feature selective translation lookaside buffer (TLB) flushing, a feature which is called process-context identifier (PCID) under Intel 64 architecture; and under Alpha, an address space number (ASN). This is because selective flushing enables the TLB behavior crucial to the exploit to be isolated across processes, without constantly flushing the entire TLB – the primary reason for the cost of mitigation.

Personally, I haven’t seen much of a slow down on my Late 2013 MacBook Pro. Thankfully, I seem to be falling somewhere in the 2% to 14% performance hit. How things go from here, however will help me decide if I stay with this Mac or wait until Apple releases a new Mac with a new processor that doesn’t fall victim to this nasty issue.

What happened to you and your computer? Do you have an older machine? Have you installed the patches? Are you experiencing a performance hit that you’d like to reveal or discuss with someone?

If so, give me a shout and let me know where you stand. You can find me in the Discussion are a below or you can send me an email.

Related Posts:

Why does the Performance on my iPhone Suck?

You’d be surprised by the answer (or at least you should have been)…

I’ve been an iPhone user on and off since 2008. I started with an iPhone 3G, which I ditched inside of three months because the bloody thing couldn’t take or make a call without dropping it at least – literally – a dozen times or more.

More recently, I’ve been dealing with a different iPhone problem. I’ve got iPhone 6’s and iPhone 7 Plus’ in my house. Since Apple’s whole “Batterygate” thing hit the news, things have been a bit crazy for nearly every iPhone owner I know of.

Case in point – I was recently contacted by a buddy of mine about this very issue. Apparently one of his wife’s friends was having an issue.

IMG-0629

I tried to explain to him that this was the publicized battery issue; and that there was a reasonably priced resolution, that shouldn’t be too difficult to take care of.

IMG-0630

It was clear to me that this was also the same problem that he had described in his previous message.

 

The additional information was nice, but not completely necessary…

IMG-0632

So, this, like other issues that plague iPhone users has been completely misunderstood. So let me break it down very carefully.

1. Do you have an iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus, or iPhone 7/7 Plus?
If the answer is yes, then you need to take a look at the following questions.
2. Is the phone older than a year old?
If the answer is yes, ask yourself the next question
3. Does the phone seem slower now with iOS 11 than it did with iOS 10?
If so, you’re not crazy.

If the phone is a year old or more, AND you use your phone a LOT, you’ve likely cycled through the battery a number of times. The more cycles on your battery, the older it becomes. The older your battery is, the quicker it discharges power. When your phone has a lot of cycles on its battery, it’s very likely that it won’t hold a charge very long. When it doesn’t hold a charge for a long time, you end up charging it more often. This becomes a Catch 22; as the more that device needs to be charged, the shorter the drain time is, and the more cycles you put on your phone’s battery.

The performance problem isn’t imagined. Apple’s latest version of iOS 11.2.2 actually throttles the processor so that the phone uses less power, when the battery’s health (measured by age and the number of cycles it has on it) is below 80%-85%.

So the solution to all of this, believe it or not, is really easy – get a new battery. Prior to the issue with processor throttling in iOS 11.2.2, Apple charged $79 for a battery replacement. Now, Apple is charging $29 to replace the battery in your iPhone 6/6 Plus or later during all of 2018.

While the problem is now easy to identify, the solution is also easy to apply – slow phone? Get a new battery.

Do you have an older iPhone (now defined as at least 3 generation’s back (so at least 2 years old)? If you do, the best thing that you can do to put your phone back into “like new” performance, is to get a new battery.

You can find more information about this particular issue at Apple’s Support site.

Related Posts:

It’s Supposed to be Compatible

There’s always a chance that something that’s supposed to work, won’t…

So, many – well most of you, actually – don’t know; but I was in a motor vehicle accident just after Christmas 2017. Someone lost control of their vehicle and smashed into the rear driver’s side door of my car on a very, busy US interstate highway during the evening rush hour, commute home. I spun out over three lanes of oncoming traffic and hit the wall, going about fifty (50) MPH (80.5 KPH), It wasn’t pretty; and I’m mending as well as could be expected.

Unfortunately, my car was totaled; and I was forced to purchase a new vehicle.

I purchased a 2014 Toyota Highlander XLE. It’s a nice vehicle; and much bigger and much more modern than the 2003 Camry LE that I was driving. The vehicle however, has a couple of foibles that I wasn’t completely aware of when I bought it. Unfortunately, for me, they all evolve around the entertainment system and my new, iPhone 8 Plus.

So, here’s the problem, in a nut shell – the Entune radio hardware and software won’t consistently mount the device. Because it won’t consistently mount the device, the vehicle’s USB port won’t read data from the device consistently, and won’t charge the phone consistently. When the USB port mounts the phone, everything works like you would expect it to. The problem is, as I stated, the radio won’t do that consistently.

I purchased my vehicle from the CarMax in Naperville, IL. When I noticed that the vehicle and my iPhone 8 Plus weren’t getting along, I took the vehicle back to CarMax’s Service department.

After spending a day on the vehicle, CarMax told me that my car simply wasn’t compatible with my phone. According to the vehicle’s owner’s manual, everything should work. However, CarMax – who said they called the local Toyota dealership – said THEY were told by Toyota, that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus weren’t compatible with the Entune Radio in ANY Toyota vehicle.

So, I did what any good QA testing guy would do. I grabbed every iPhone I had in the house, my 8 Plus, my wife’s 7 Plus, my son in law’s iPhone 6 and my son’s iPhone 5s. As a matter of fact, NONE of them worked with my new car’s radio correctly. I couldn’t get it to work with any of the four different iPhone versions I had, with any of the Lightning cables I had (both MFI and non-MFI certified cables).

At that point, I contacted my local Toyota dealership.

They told me that everything should work. It was all compatible. While the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus weren’t specifically listed as compatible, I was told without a doubt they should work.

Toyota asked to see the vehicle.

My office is closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I have an appointment with a local Toyota Dealer to examine the car. According to them, the car either needs to have its software updated, or will need to have its software reflated to insure that everything is working correctly. If that doesn’t work, then we’re looking at either a USB port replacement or a full radio replacement, or both.

As I am writing this prior to the actual appointment, I will update everyone on the outcome, but at this point, you have to wonder how motor vehicle entertainment systems that come with your car work or continue to work as needed when you upgrade your phone. I mean, most cars last at least 10 years or more. How do you keep everything working correctly as your car ages? You’re likely to upgrade your phone at least five (5) times during a ten year period. Your car needs to keep working with the devices you have (or probably, more appropriately…); your devices need to keep working with your car as it ages.

This, among other things, will be asked of my Toyota service technician when I see them early Monday morning.

I will keep everyone posted…

Related Posts:

With Apple Watch Series 3, $10 Ain’t $10

If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 with active LTE service, you’re likely in for a nasty surprise.

apple watch

Back when the Apple Watch Series 3 first launched earlier in the Fall of 2017, carriers promised that LTE service for your new Series 3 Apple Watch, would cost only $10 USD per month; and it does.

Sorta.

In the beginning, carriers offered three months of free service and waived the activation fees. At this point, everyone that got their Series 3 Watch on the day it was first made available at the Store, is likely being charged for service. However, as I mentioned earlier, $10 bucks isn’t always JUST $10 bucks. Both AT&T and Verizon are charging additional fees. So, your $10 bucks is likely closer to $12 to $14 bucks per month.

In California, Verizon Wireless users also have an additional $1.55 fee on top of their $10 per month, service charge. In North Carolina, AT&T users are being charged an additional $4.39 per month, bringing their bill near $15 for LET service on their Series 3 Apple Watch. These fees can be higher in other states.

If you thought you might try to avoid all of the fees by deactivating your service and then reactivating it when you need or want it, you’re also in for a nasty surprise. There are activation fees that come with this activity. You’re going to get hit with the standard $25 activation fee every time you go to bring your watch back on line.

For example, when you cancel and re-add a line, on Verizon, you’re going to get hit with that $25 activation fee I mentioned. Suspending your service will hit you with a $10 per month fee (what the normal service will cost – so you’re paying for it anyway).

Because Apple Watch Series 3 uses NumberShare on Verizon, it’s not considered a prepaid device, so you can’t skip a month of service. Per Verizon, you really have only two options:
1. Suspend your service for up to 3 months at a time; but this is going to cost you $10 a month. This is the normal service fee, so you’re not saving anything here. You’re actually giving them $10 a month to NOT use the LTE service on the Watch, which doesn’t make sense.
2. Deactivate the Watch completely. That’s going to wipe it from the account, but you’re need to restart everything over again if you want to bring it back; and that’s going to cost you at least the (previously waived) $25 activation fee. There’s also a recurring charge. This means that Vs. will basically charge you for two and a half months of service every time you turn the Watch off and on again.

There’s also a possibility that you’ll run into activation issues when you start and stop service. The Watch has its own number; but shadows your phone’s number when placing and receiving calls. Sometimes this whole process can create issues, as reported by some; but why that happened to those that bumped into that problem, isn’t clear.

If you have a Series 3 Apple Watch and have bumped into issues like this, reach out to me and help me understand what happened to you.

Related Posts:

Apple Watch can Save your Life

New studies suggest that owning an Apple Watch can identify potentially lethal health trends

I saw this, and I thought this was pretty cool.

I have an Apple Watch and have enjoyed using it for just over two years. I use it mostly for notifications and responding to text messages. I also use it to keep track of my physical activity, as well, such as it is. As a tech and software development geek, having something remind you to move and to move more during your day is important, especially when your job has you sitting on your tush all day long testing software. Some folks, me included, forget to move without being reminded. Having a subtle reminder to stand every hour makes it easy for me to take a break, move, and to refocus my thoughts, if needed. Apple Watch has made me more productive, as a result, believe it or not. It’s not been an interruption.

In a new development, it’s been found that Wearables can be used to accurately detect conditions like hypertension and sleep apnea in users that wear them. The research, conducted by health startup Cardiogram and UCSF, cited claims that data from heart sensors when combined with machine learning algorithms can identify patterns that predict if a person is at risk of certain health issues. The study followed more than 6000 subjects, some of whom were known to have been diagnosed with both hypertension and sleep apnea.

Cardiogram cofounder, Brandon Ballinger wants to “transform wearables that people already own – Apple Watches, Android Wears, Garmins, and Fitbits – into inexpensive, everyday screening tools using artificial intelligence” into tools that can not only help keep people well, but drive the growth of the market. The study is headed for peer review, according to Ballinger. This will hopefully lead to wearables being validated as a screening method for this and other major health care conditions, like pre-diabetes and diabetes, which, appears to be next on Cardiogram’s hit list

Cardiogram’s study lines up very well with the direction that Apple has been taking Apple Watch and the apps that are available for it in the App Store. Patents have been developed that involve both health related wearable technology by Cardiogram. Apple is also involved in a heart rate study partnership with Stanford University.

Related Posts:

Apple to Buy Shazam

There’s an interesting rumor going around that Apple is going to buy Shazam for about $400M…

shazam

Apple announced the acquisition of Shazam in a statement to Buzzfeed News, on 2017-12-11. In their statement, Apple acknowledged that Shazam was one of the most popular apps available for download in the iOS and Mac App Stores; and has hundreds of millions of users, on multiple platforms, worldwide.

“Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users,” Apple’s Tom Neumayr said. “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Apple is reportedly in late stage talks to acquire Shazam, a popular content recognition and identification app that is currently rounding up investments as it moves toward an initial public offering. This would be an interesting development, as the popular music recognition app is currently cross platform.

Shazam has been integrated into Apple’s iOS since June of 2014 when it released iOS 8. While the deal between the two organizations is NOT finalized, its anticipated that the deal, worth approximately $400M USD could be announced as early as Monday, 2017-12-11.

Originally called 2580, named after the number users had to dial to reach the service via text, the UK company came into existence in 1999. The app is now in both the iOS and Mac App Stores and has turned into a comprehensive audio discovery and identification service helping users identify songs, movies and TV shows by capturing audio. The app has been downloaded over 1 billion times.

Apple partnered with Shazam’s marketing team in 2015 to help power their Apple Music app. This is likely where they will permanently put the app, should they in fact come to an agreement to purchase the technology.

According to Shazam’s CEO, Rich Riley, the company reported revenues of £40.3M pounds for their 2016 fiscal year. Riley indicated that their marketing shift to advertising is what helped make them profitable and helped them become an acquisition target.

Shazam is integrated into iTunes and Apple Music, and has hooks into the iTunes Store. On the Android side, it also has hooks into Google Play. iTunes users can quickly purchase recognized songs. Apple Music users can quickly add identified songs to a customized playlist.

If purchased, Shazam would be Apple’s second largest acquisition in recent years. Apple purchased Beats for $3B USD in 2014. The Shazam purchase, however, at $400M, is likely to be a 60% discount over the organization’s most recent funding round, which valued the company and service at approximately $1B USD. Shazam has raised over $143M in funding since 2002, including monies obtained through Sony Music and Universal.

Related Posts:

Five of the Best Screen Shot Apps for macOS

Take great screen shots on your Mac with these best of breed tools…

Introduction
I love my Mac. In my opinion, it’s easier to use than a Windows machine, especially when it comes to the creative side of my life. The tools that exist on the Mac side of the world, in my opinion, are much better than their Windows counterparts… but that’s just my opinion, and there are many different kinds of creative tools.

One kind of tool allows you to take screen shots of your desktop and other, running applications. These tools are in many ways both powerful and easy to use; and there are quite a few of them. I’ve taken a few moments to find some of the best screen shot utilities available for Mac, and pulled the best together here for you.

macOS Native Tools
The one thing that every Mac user knows is the two different utilities built into every version of macOS. These screen shot utilities allow you to take full screens as well as screen shots of specific areas. These native tools are helpful, but sometimes, they just are NOT enough. Nor are they really part of this roundup. They need to be mentioned, as they are part of the OS, and if all you need are basic tools, they’ll do the job just time. When you need more, though, you may need to look elsewhere.

Command+Shift+3
This keyboard combination will take a full screen, screen shot of each desktop/ monitor connected to your Mac. Since it does every monitor, you have to make certain you grab the right one, if you’re looking for something specific.

Command+Shift+4
This keyboard combination will change the mouse cursor into a cross hair and will allow you to capture a portion of it. Press Command+Shift+4, locate the area you want to capture and click and hold the left mouse button. When you want to stop capturing, let go of the mouse button. You’ll hear a camera shutter and the snip you took will appear as a file on your desktop.

 

Screenshot Plus
SSPlus
For those, like me, that still use the old Mac Dashboard, there’s a freeware dashboard widget that will allow you to take professional level screen shots, quickly and easily.

Screenshot Plus can take full screen captures, capture specific screen areas, and capture other objects, such as windows, desktop icons, and other widgets. Once captured, screens can be saved to the clipboard or as files on your hard drive. They can also be exported to any application on your Mac, directly from the widget.

After you take a shot with Screenshot Plus, it displays a preview of capture you took. It will also give you the ability to directly save or import the shot. Shots can also be directly placed into Photos.

Captures can be saved to JPG, PNG, TIF, GIF and PDF. The widget also supports, English, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Dutch and Japanese languages

Captures may be saved in the formats: jpg, png, tif, gif and pdf. The following languages are supported:

Screen shot plus is free and can be downloaded here.

 

SnagIt
Snagit
SnagIt is perhaps one of the VERY best screen shot utilities available on the market. It’s been around forever and a day, going back to the 1990’s, and its more than reasonably priced. It comes with a wide array of tools that allow you to take screen shots, and then annotate, highlight and draw attention to specific areas within the shot. The app also comes with a fully activated, full featured 15 day trial. You get to use the whole sha-bang for two weeks. If you have need for ANY type of call out or annotation on just even a fairly regular basis – even if its once or twice a month – this likely going to be the app for you.

If you’re looking for a free alternative, you can try Jing. While it is free, you kinda limited to sharing images over TechSmith’s social service.

SnagIt is $49.99 for a single, user license and can be downloaded here. Jing is free and can be downloaded here.

 

Monosnap

As I’m certain you’ll agree, anything free is awesome; and this is doubly true of Monosnap. Monosnap is a free macOS extension that loads in the Menu bar of your Mac, making it available whenever you need it. Its accessible via either mouse click or keyboard shortcut, and allows you to take full and freeform screen shots. The application comes with a wide array of annotation tools; and allows you to export shots as either JPG or PNG files. You can even export shots to an external editor, like Photoshop, if needed.

Both Monosnap for Mac (and Windows) are free to download and use. However, small donations of $1 to $25 will unlock the app, providing additional storage and app integration options. You can download the application here.

 

Snapz Pro X
Snapz Pro X
Snapz Pro X is a professional screen capturing app, in the same class as SnagIt. The app is invoked via a keyboard command – the default is Command-Shift-5 – which should be easy to remember, it’s just one to two numbers away from your Mac’s native screenshot tools. It also complements them very well, as you can use the Native tools when something quick and easy is needed; and Snapz Pro X when you need something a little more serious.

With Snapz Pro X, you can capture areas, full screens, objects (read: Windows) or full, on screen video. After you’ve decided what to capture, and you invoke that part of the app, you get a nice little tool box of on screen settings to help you fine tune the capture.

Snapz Pro X is $69; but comes with a 15 day free trial. After the trial expires, a watermark is placed in the center of each screen capture. You can download the application < a href=”http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/”>here.

 

Conclusion
If you don’t have a lot of screen shot needs, then save your money and use the macOS Native Tools. They’re free and can get the job done. Unfortunately, when you go this route, you don’t get any annotation tools or gadgets to enhance your shots so you can draw attention to specific areas of the graphic.

If you need something more, but don’t have, or don’t want to spend a lot of money on this, you can choose Screenshot Plus or Monosnap. Both are free to use, though Screenshot plus requires that you use the Macintosh Dashboard, something that isn’t in wide use any longer; and Monosnap doesn’t include a lot of its cooler, cloud storage features without some kind of donation or cost.

While the average user doesn’t need the professional tools – or price tags – on tools like SnagIt or Snapz Pro X, their tools are really nice. At some point, most every computer user is going to find that they need some kind of screen shot taking and annotation tool. There are both free and paid options.

You’ve got some decent choices here. If you find others that you like, I’d love to hear about them in the Discussion area below.

Related Posts:

Should I Upgrade or Not..? – Part 1

Based on the information at hand, here’s my take on Apple’s announcements from 2017-09-12…

iphone x

Apple announced three new iPhones (six, if you count the different sizes), two new Apple Watches (one with cellular and one without) and two new Apple TV’s the other day (again, if you count the different storage sizes). There’s a TON of debate going on regarding the new devices; and like EVERY OTHER YEAR that Apple announces new iDevices, the same argument starts: is the upgrade worth the cost?

Like EVERY OTHER YEAR, the answer is likely going to be the same – it depends on where you’re upgrading from.

iPhones – the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X
The iPhone 8 offers the following in terms of new tech

• An updated processor – A11 Bionic
It’s got 6 cores – two performance and for efficiency cores making it 25% faster than the iPhone 7
• An updated GPU
It’s got three cores and is 30% faster than the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7
• An updated Retina HD display
It’s got a True Tone display, making colors more realistic, as it automatically adjusts and readjusts the white balance to match the direct and ambient light around you. Dual domain pixels make it viewable from nearly any angle
• An improved camera
It’s got a 12MP camera (still) with a larger, faster CMOS sensor, a new color filter and optical image stabilization for both photos AND video.
• Wireless (Inductive) Charging
The iPhone now supports Qi charging technology in the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus, iPhone X, and AirPods. The Apple Watch has always supported wireless charging.
• New Storage Capacity
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X now have 256GB sizes.

So in summary,
• It’s faster,
• Has a better screen
• Has a better camera , and
• Has wireless charging

However, this can be said of EVERY new iPhone out there? I mean, isn’t that what you get with EVERY new generation iPhone? Its better, faster stronger..? This year’s camera is better than last year’s camera? I mean, the only thing new here is the implementation of Qi charging… and as every AOSP and Google Pixel fan has pointed out to me, this is something that has existed with Android phones for at LEAST two years… so where’s the new, innovative stuff?

The answer is that you won’t find it on the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus. It’s the “tock” to the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus’ “tick.” You have to remember that Apple isn’t revolutionary in its technology implementations… they’re evolutionary. Their take on this is that they may not be the first to do it, but they are (likely) the ones to do it right.

In most cases, I agree with this; but don’t get me started with Apple and its services offering… iCloud and all that it offers (iCloud Drive, iCloud Backup and synchronization (photos, music, messages, files, etc.) are still screwed up and… that’s a rant for another day. I think that the “improvements” that you’ll see with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are really good, decent improvements. However, I don’t know that these are enough to justify an $700+ upgrade from the iPhone 7 (or even 6s, for that matter) to the iPhone 8.

The iPhone X offers the following in terms of new tech

• Edge to edge Super Retina display
The Home Button is gone. There are a ton of new gestures needed and required because the Home Button has been removed. 3D Touch has been reworked to work the new, OLED screen. The Super Retina displays offers truer, more vivid colors, ginormous resolution, and a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio. This is the best screen on a smartphone, ever.

• TrueDepth Camera & Face ID
The selfie camera has been totally reworked because the Home Button and its Touch ID sensor is gone. The TrueDepth Camera enables a new, neural engine powered camera so that it can map your face to support Face ID and facial identification (for device unlocking as well as Apple Pay authentication).

The TrueDepth Camera drives Face ID and stores the information in the Secure Enclave. Face ID and its setup process maps an analyzes more than 30,000 mapping dots to create a precise depth map of your face. The mapping is supposed to be so accurate, that you can grow a beard, change your hair style (or completely shave it off), wear glasses etc. and you are still you to the TrueDepth Camera. Pictures and realistic masks can’t fool it, thanks to the neural engine and machine learning capabilities of both the camera and the new A11 Bionic processor.

• Improved (digital photo) Camera
It’s got a 12MP camera (still) with a larger, faster CMOS sensor, a new color filter and optical image stabilization for both photos AND video.
• An updated processor – A11 Bionic
It’s got 6 cores – two performance and for efficiency cores making it 25% faster than the iPhone 7
• An updated GPU
It’s got three cores and is 30% faster than the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7

• Wireless (Inductive) Charging
The iPhone now supports Qi charging technology in the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus, iPhone X, and AirPods. The Apple Watch has always supported wireless charging.
• New Storage Capacity
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X now have 256GB sizes.

So in summary,
• It’s got a new display size and new display type
• The Home Button has been removed to provide more screen real estate
• The front and rear cameras have been totally revamped to support OIS in every mode (still and video) and for machine learning driven, facial recognition (because Touch ID has been removed)
• It’s faster and smarter to support facial recognition and augmented reality, and
• Supports wireless charging

There’s a bit more here, and to be fair, while none of this is NEW – it was pointed out to me by that same Android fan-boy that both Google Pixel and Samsung devices have had OLED displays, facial recognition, bezeless displays and wireless charging – it’s the combination and (more the) implementation of these technologies on this platform that make them (so) new. It’s the type of cameras, it’s the method of facial recognition etc., that makes the iPhone X the coveted hit that it likely will become in the Apple Ecosystem.

However, there are a few issues here that I need to cover…

Device Storage Sizes
The iPhone 7 comes in 32GB and 128GB sizes. Both the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus and the iPhone X come in 64GB and 256GB sizes. To be honest, I think the same thing about the 64GB size as I thought of the 32GB size… it’s completely USELESS.

Last year Apple eliminated the 64GB size from their smartphone offering because (they said) that it didn’t offer enough storage space. Why then would they bring it back for the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus and the iPhone X?

I’ve got a 128GB iPhone 7 Plus. If I want to upgrade to the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus, I’ve either got to totally remove my entire music collection (I don’t have video on my iPhone) and revert to streaming everything; OR pay $150 USD more for twice the space I have.

I’ve got 85.50GB of stuff on my iPhone. 55GB of that is music. 8GB of that is photos and home videos taken with my iPhone cameras. The rest is used by apps and their data. I’ve got 38.50GB of free space.

Apple is forcing me to make a cost based decision that I really don’t want to make. I hate entry level devices, as they nearly ALWAYS leave you wishing you had bought more. However, without a mid-level storage offering of 128GB, its either pay more or shut up (meaning upgrade and get over it, or don’t upgrade and stop crying).

Cost
At the end of the day, for nearly everyone, these decisions are going to be cost motivated. The 256GB iPhone 8/ 8 Plus are $699/$799 and $799/$949 for the 64GB/ 256GB variants, respectively. These aren’t cheap, but they aren’t really out of line with other smartphone offerings at their tier level today. I’ll get to other issues here, in just a sec…

The iPhone X also offers 64GB and 256GB variants. Those are $999 and $1149. These aren’t cheap either, but only the price of the 64GB device has been seen from both Google and Samsung recently. $1150 for a phone – regardless of how “smart” that phone may be… is just a little nuts…

And that brings me to my overall point here… we’re really starting to push up against the envelope of reasonability when it comes to device cost.

Due to the increased device cost, you’re either going to need to buy a data plan with enough bandwidth to address the decreased storage you may have to accept in order to buy into the device; OR you’re going to have to bite the bullet and pay for the more expensive device. Either way you cut it, your carrier is going to get a bigger cut of your paycheck; and for many this may be a huge problem… especially when you’re upgrading more than one device at a time.

I’ve got four devices on my AT&T wireless account. Three of them are on the same upgrade cycle. That represents an additional cost of approximately $40 to $60 additional dollars a month (after any residual device costs of $50 to $100 per device are satisfied at upgrade time), if we upgrade on schedule based on these current device costs… and that’s really crazy.

By the way, those costs are NOT Apple specific. They are based on an upgrade of any “current” device, currently on any kind of installment program to any “new” device available, be they Android, iOS Samsung, LG or Apple, etc.

Availability
The iPhone 8 is available for purchase on 2017-09-15 (or two days from this writing) with delivery on 2017-09-22. The iPhone X is available for purchase on 2017-10-27 with delivery anticipated on or around 2017-11-03 (that may be subject to change, and will likely ONLY be available for a very small amount of iPhone X’s purchased/ ordered on October 27).

In other words, there are likely enough iPhone 8/ 8 Plus’ to go around; but landing an iPhone X of any size will likely offer legitimate bragging rights. Not that you bought the phone – regardless of how “eXclusive” it may truly be – but because the yield rates are reportedly very low, at only 10,000 per day, worldwide. That means that only 450,000 ADDITIONAL units will be manufactured – again world wide – between now and 2017-10-27. Getting one of these any time this year, will be a huge crap shoot. It’s likely that the bulk of orders for the iPhone X will be delivered some time during the early months of 2018.

To Answer the Question
So, to answer the question, “should I upgrade or not?” is going to really require you to think about it. The upgrade from the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus to the iPhone 8 may not be very compelling unless you really want the better camera and wireless charging, to put it very bluntly. The iPhone 8/ 8 Plus going to be very similar to the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus (remember… this is the “tock” update…).

The upgrade to the iPhone X may be the more compelling upgrade, but the cost and the available storage sizes really make the upgrade difficult. Not many are going to want to pay $1150 for a smartphone; and $1000 for a smaller, 64GB device implies that you may have to up the ante on your data plan in order to make it work… so you’re going to pay more for the iPhone X no matter how you slice it.

For me… the jury is still out. I’ve got to a day or two to think about it, but as of this writing… I’m still on the fence. I will likely get one to review, but it may be some time in October before I order it, IF I don’t jump on the band wagon on 2017-09-15. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Come back next time. I’ll have information on the new updated Apple Watch and Apple TV, as announced at the Apple Event on 2017-09-12!

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook