iPhone 6 First Impressions

I’ve had the iPhone 6 for a few days and here are my initial thoughts on the device

iphone-6

It happens every year since 2007. The world goes bat-stuff crazy when Apple announces and then releases a new iPhone or iDevice. Everyone that has the old one WANTS to get the new one. Not everyone that wants one can either afford to buy one or those that are, are lucky enough to get one on the actual launch day. This year, I was blessed enough to be both.

I’ve been playing with a space gray, iPhone 6 since the evening of 2014-09-19. I completed an unboxing for Soft32 that you can see on my site, iTechGear.org.

After working with the device for about five or so days, I have the following to share about the device.

Size and Form Factor

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is perhaps one of the thinnest smartphones I have ever put my hands on. While the 4.7″ screen size is perhaps the biggest – and most noticeable – of Apple’s new smartphone’s features, the device’s waist size is relevant news, especially after report after report of the device bending.

With the new design, the iPhone has departed from its four version, design stagnation (iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s). The iPhone 6/6 Plus is new. Its sexy. Its bigger, and its thinner. It provides the user with a whole new smartphone experience; or at least that is what Apple would have you believe; and its probably true.

In hand, either device is huge. While the 6 Plus is like holding an iPad mini to your head, the iPhone 6, while only slightly smaller, is still vastly larger than its predecessors. Over the past few days, I’ve found that holding the device is noticeable, especially after using the iPhone 5 over the past two years. However, its noticeably larger, and you know that you know that you’re using a much larger device.

The device is super sexy; but I wouldn’t use it without a case. I made this decision BEFORE hearing about all of the device bending stories and before seeing all of the pictures. As such, the day that I got my iPhone 6, I went to AT&T and bought an OtterBox Defender Series Case for my iPhone 6. I love the profile of the iPhone 6, but if smartphones get any thinner, they will definitely need to be able to bend or fold on purpose in order to prevent the device from being damaged.

You won’t want it to be in a case, but you’re GOING to need something to help protect the device. Its really a GREAT looking device; but while Apple has done a really great job of designing a technologically advanced, consumer friendly device, it may have gone too far in thinning it out.

The screen seems great, and iOS 8 provides a way to change the display resolution on the device to provide those with failing eyesight – like me – a way of changing the zoom level so that its easier to read. The setting is available on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

So far, I like the size change. The older form factor seems tiny by comparison. Thankfully, the larger device still fits in my Arkon Car Mount, allowing me to use the device with my hands free kit in my car.

I’ll have more on the device size and my use of it in my full review of the iPhone 6.

Battery

Over the past few days, there have been a number of reports on issues with battery life. I have on occasion experienced some of this. While the battery in the iPhone 6 is definitely bigger – you can tell its got a longer battery life – its clear that in some instances, it should last longer than it does.

Like many others, I connect my iPhone to my Pebble Steel, my car radio, my Nike Fuel Band, my Bluetooth headset, and of course, my MacBook Pro, among other devices. While many of these may be BT-LE compatible, and therefore don’t suck too much power, some of them aren’t. Interestingly enough, I don’t see Bluetooth being among the guilty parties in some of the power drains I’ve seen.

As with the iPhone 5 and earlier, most of the drain I’m seeing is coming from screen and processor/co-processor use. Yes. You can read that as gaming. Its also one of the biggest reasons why I really don’t do a lot of gaming on my iPhones. At the end of the day – literally…the end of the day – it doesn’t pay off.

On my iPhone 5, I could start the day with a full charge and after one session of Angry Birds Friends, where I went through all 6 levels for the week – perhaps, 30 minutes of play – my battery life would be down below 70%. I’m seeing similar performance with my iPhone 6.

Some games just suck battery life. You’re going to need to govern your game play and figure out which games are the biggest culprits. I’ll have more on battery life with my review.

iOS 8

I’ve written a lot on iOS 8 over the past few months. You can see my coverage on Soft32 over the past few months, here, here, here and here. The beta period wasn’t pretty. While the OS itself is showing some stability, the release of iOS 8.0.1, has been just as big a train wreck as the other pre-releases of the new mobile OS. Apple, like so many others, is cutting corners on quality; and when you have something like this, being this big, and this visible, you simply just can’t.

Releases of any mobile operating system need to be clean and as issue free as possible. As a software quality professional with over 25 years in quality, I can tell you that there will always be bugs. Always. You’re not going to get away from them. However, you need to make sure that the bugs that you are releasing with are known, of lower priority and severity, and that fixes are planned and coming. Releasing an update to your mobile operating system that disables all mobile, cellular communications and kills the device’s biometric security measures is certain evidence that your QA director isn’t watching where the ship is going. Defects of that severity and priority were easy to spot and should have prevented the release of the update.

I’ll have more on the device, including comparative photos of the iPhone 6 up against the iPhone 5, the HTC One (M8) and Lumia 520 that I have. If you have any specific questions on the device or on iOS 8, I’d be happy to address them in my review. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comments section, below.

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Apple Updates: iPhone 6

There’s a great deal going on in the Apple world. Let’s take a quick look…

Introduction

To say that there’s been a bit of activity in Cupertino as of late would be an understatement. Apple’s been very busy over the past few weeks. They have released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They have (or will shortly, as of this writing) released iOS 8 not only in GM form to their development team, but to the general public; and they have released Yosemite DP8/Public Beta 3.

As you can see from the screen shot below, I’ve got iPhone 6’s on the way to my house. They should arrive on Friday 2014-09-19 by 3pm Central Time. This is the first time since I purchased an iPhone 3G that I have been able to get an iPhone ON an actual iPhone release day. I will have everything officially unboxed, videoed and posted for all to see, followed by a full iPhone 6 review WITH comparative screen shots in the days immediately following the arrival of the device.

In the mean time, let’s take a few moments and look at all of these huge releases one by one.

IPhone 6

iphone6concept4

The iPhone 6 is 138.1×6.70×6.90mm (LXWXH) and weighs 129 grams. It comes in 16G, 64G and 128G capacities; and is priced at $199, $299 and $399, respectively (all prices are USD). The differences between the two new models are mostly about the display sizes and the camera. The Plus has optical image stabilization due to the larger size of the device. The iPhone 6 does not. The iPhone Plus will display full HD. The iPhone 6 will display up to 720p.

Both models have an 8MP iSight camera, a 1.2MP FaceTime camera with a five-element, f/2.2 aperture lens with a sapphire crystal cover and True Tone flash. They also have the A8 processor and M8 motion coprocessor. They also both have TouchID fingerprint sensors and both support Apple Pay.

As I mentioned, I’ve got 3 devices with three FedEx tracking numbers on their way to my home even as I write this. I will have more updates on the iPhone 6 after they arrive and I have posted the live unboxing I plan on doing of my brand new, space gray, iPhone 6 Friday afternoon 2014-09-19.

go to Apple Updates : IOS 8 GM

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OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Mac and iOS Integration

Here is the status of the other issues I’ve been speaking to over the past few beta releases.

Installation and Startup

Yosemite DP6 was delivered as an UPDATE to DP5. There isn’t a full download, and I don’t know why. When I went to redeem the install code that I got with my Developer Program Membership, the App Store told me it was already redeemed.

The update appeared in the App Store and installed without issue.  Restart was quicker than with DP5. Performance since then has been better than with previous versions of Yosemite.

Mac and iOS Integration

mac_and_ios_mac_ios

Yosemite and iOS 8 when paired together truly provide a remarkable Apple experience.  The only problem I’ve encountered so far is that the reality isn’t measuring up to the vision.  I’m hopeful that future releases of the OS fulfill the vision before its ready for the public release of the new desktop OS.

Phone Calls
This is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen in Yosemite so far. Continuity might be cool, but iOS integration is the bomb. I love the fact that I can use my Mac as a speaker phone. However, this is the part of the vision that isn’t really quite there yet. Perhaps is the fan issue that I mentioned earlier (partially, I think), perhaps is the Bluetooth audio quality between my Mac and my iPhone 5 (more likely).  Whatever the issue and cause might be, there’s still a lot of work that needs to get done in order to have this feature working correctly.

If there’s one feature that Apple can really work on more than any other, this is what I would prefer they spend their time working on.  More than any other Yosemite feature I think this is the one that I will personally get the most use out of. I can actually see me using this one a lot.  I’m all over my iPhone and there’s no reason why my Mac and iPhone 5 shouldn’t be able to handle the full load required to make this feature truly rock.

Messages
In previous versions of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, messages didn’t quite live up to the vision that Craig Federighi outlined at the WWDC Keynote.  Messages has always handled iOS messaging well. (Honestly, it should…it was designed to do just that.)  Where it fell short was non-iOS messaging – sending and receiving messages between a Mac or iOS device and a non-Mac or non-iOS device.

In Yosemite DP6, this appears to be working as designed.  Not only are non-iOS messages received correctly (as they were in previous betas), but you can now send messages to that non-iOS or non-Apple device without any issues.  I really have to hand it to Apple. They make communicating with non-Apple-centric devices on your Mac, very easy now.  This is the way that Messages should have worked from the beginning.

FaceTime
I think this is the area where most of the Mac and iOS integration issues are stemming from, but I could be wrong.  It seems that Apple is wanting FaceTime to be the PC based hub for all non-written communications integration between your Mac and your iPhone.  All of your call history from your iPhone is synchronized with FaceTime when the phone is physically connected to your Mac.  This includes not only your cellular calls, but FaceTime audio and video calls as well.

When you want to make a cellular call from your Mac, you can use either FaceTime or you can use Contacts to find the number. I’ve noticed that regardless of what desktop app you use, searching for a number is delayed as the app tries to search through your contacts for the search string you’re actively typing.  The more contacts you have, the longer the delay.  While this was more pronounced in earlier beta’s, this is still an issue here in DP6.

The audio quality here is still very, VERY bad.  For personal or casual calls, its not that big of a deal.  For business calls, I would not use this feature yet.  You’re just going to have to hang up and call them from your iPhone or a land line.

One of the biggest problems that I have with this particular feature is that the integration at times seems a bit too tight.  Its still very difficult to get my Mac to actually answer the call.  It takes a bit to get the call to really connect/answer.  If you try to answer a call from your iPhone, the call has issues reverting back to the handset… and your Mac continues to ring, even after you’ve gotten the call to answer on the  iPhone.   There needs to be a better hand off between the iPhone and the Mac in this situation.  Apple needs to lock in the hook a bit better and then allow for easy – or better yet – easier unhooking as well.  Right now, the integration between the two needs some strengthening and needs a better, more reliable way of – uh-hem, consciously uncoupling – when you need it to.

Personally, I think there’s a problem relying on FaceTime on the desktop to drive desktop communications and integration between your Mac and your iPhone.  Don’t get me wrong. It makes sense.  However, Apple is totally rewriting FaceTime and its exposing and creating a lot of holes.

The biggest issue right now is that all of the changes are effecting the FaceTime service.  This may be part of what is causing the spike in my fan RPM’s.  There’s likely some kind of FaceTime Stub that runs when your Mac starts, but for some reason isn’t properly activating when needed.

For example, FaceTime video calls don’t always ring on my Mac, even when FaceTime is running on my Mac. I can’t tell you have aggravating that is. When I’m home, I’d much rather take ALL communications – FaceTime Audio/Video as well as cellular calls – through my Mac than on my iPhone.  It should just be a connected, unused accessory when recognized by your Mac, especially if its physically cabled to your Mac.  This is yet another weak integration link that needs to be tightened up quickly.  We’re running out of time in the DP/ Beta time period.

Conclusion

In true Apple fashion, OS X Yosemite 10.10 Developer Preview 6/ Public Beta 2 is an evolutionary update to Developer Preview 5/ Public Beta 1.  Its clear that progress is being made, but at this point, Apple’s standard incremental BS has got to stop. They need to step on the gas and really tighten up their code between their two-week sprints.  Otherwise, I’m not entirely convinced that they’re going to realize the vision that Craig Federighi outlined for us about three or so months ago.  I would hate for the realization of this vision to not be fulfilled until 10.10.2 or 10.10.3.  That would be a bit too late, don’t you think?

When its all said and done, Yosemite should be a really cool OS release. This is some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen on a PC since the introduction of the original iPAQ 3600 back in the day.  The integration is unprecedented, and some of the most innovative work that has been completed since the introduction of the mouse back in 1984.  I’d like to see Microsoft introduce cutting edge features like this that enhance the feature set in Windows (rather than completely remaking the face of it, as MetroUI did).

And speaking of YOUR opinion, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. I’ve really tried not to rah-rah too much in Apple’s direction. I don’t want to come off as a fan boy too much.  Yes, there’s a lot to like here; but I hope I’m being critical enough to provide as well rounded an opinion as possible.

So, what do you think?  Are you using any of the Apple Beta’s?  Are you a registered developer and have DP6 installed?  Were you able to download a full release of DP6, or did you get it as an update as I did? Do you have a Thunderbolt Display?  Are you having fan issues on your Mac when the Display is connected?  I know I’m using it as a docking station (I’ve got all of the ports filled on the back of the Display); but I didn’t think that would be an issue that would cause the Mac’s fan RPM’s to spike and remain high as they have.

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and let me know what you think of these new developments.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this, as I’d like to be able to focus some of my comments and attention on your issues as the DP and Beta periods come to a close.

back to OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Introduction

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The new iMac goes all out

The new iMac from Apple has arrived in a new form and hardware configuration. Based on a new quad-core processor, a new AMD HD graphics card, Thunderbolt technology, FaceTime HD webcam, the new iMac is a desktop workhorse disguised as an all-in-one wonder.

Powered by quad-core processors, the new iMac is the fastest yet with up to 70 percent faster than the previous generation. Every model in the lineup comes standard with the latest Intel Core i5 quad-core processor. You even have the option to configure the 21.5- or 27-inch iMac with the Intel Core i7, the fastest quad-core processor available.

Besides the powerful processor, you can add up to 16GB of DDR3 memory and an ultrafast 256GB solid-state drive, and you’ve got a modern rig that can handle just about anything.

With the AMD Radeon HD 6750M or the AMD Radeon HD 6970M for the top of the line, iMac performs even better than before. So you see more frames per second in 3D games, and you can edit HD home videos with more speed and responsiveness than you ever thought possible.

Ultrafast and ultraflexible, the Thunderbolt port features two 10-Gbps data channels for data transfer that’s up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. And it offers unprecedented expansion capabilities for a new generation of high-performance peripherals. The new 27-inch iMac gives you not just one but two Thunderbolt ports.

Get more of your friends in the picture with crisp, widescreen HD video. The new FaceTime HD camera lets you make FaceTime video calls in 720p resolution. Make HD calls from one new iMac to another or to a new MacBook Pro. You can also make video calls to other Intel-based Mac computers, iPad 2, iPhone 4, or the latest iPod touch.

An interesting fact is that when you buy your new iMac from the Apple Online Store, you have the option to swap Magic Mouse for Magic Trackpad at no extra cost. With Magic Mouse, you can perform simple gestures across its smooth, seamless top shell. Scroll in any direction with one finger, swipe through web pages and photos with two, and click and double-click anywhere. For full gesture support, opt for Magic Trackpad. Made with a touch-friendly all-glass surface, Magic Trackpad is the largest Multi-Touch trackpad made by Apple. So there’s plenty of room for scrolling, swiping, pinching, or rotating.

The price for the 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1199 while the price for the 27-inch iMac can come up to $1999 (with full specs). Not cheap I might say.

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