The iPhone 5

I posted last night my thoughts and speculations on what the new iPhone would bring. To summarise:

  • New, taller design

  • 4" Taller screen with increased resolution

  • International LTE

  • Improved low light performance on the camera

  • Some other surprise

Check. Check. Check. Check. Sadly, no (unless you count the iPod/iTunes refresh). So all in all, rather unsurprising, but that seems to be the way, these days.

So what do I think? Nice. I like the design, and LTE, better camera, and battery life are improvement enough to warrant me upgrading. Aside from the obvious (NFC) I don't know what more they really could have added to it. Apple's way with these things has always been generally a little behind everyone else - LTE has been shipping for a while now on other handsets, especially in the US. But until now, before the iPhone 5, it has been plagued by terrible battery life. Apple seems to have somehow fixed that - the battery life is the same for LTE browsing as it 3G. I suspect NFC will be the same - that being, next year maybe (if NFC has actually taken off) when Apple are sure they can implement it with any detraction to the overall quality of the phone, they will.

Will I be getting one? Of course. As to how yet I haven't decided; unfortunately if you want LTE the only really option here in the land of Oz is Telstra at the stage. (And really, why wouldn't you want LTE?) I'll be waiting to see the plans trickle through later in the day.

Until then, check out landing page Apple has setup for it. Jony Ive is brilliant.

Sony's New Full Frame Line Up

Photokina is well underway, and Sony have taken to the stage to announce their latest camera bodies, namely the A99 DSLT and the RX1 compact. Both feature 24MP, full frame (24x36mm) sensors, reasonable ISO ranges, and full video modes. The A99 is basically the A77 with a bigger sensor, slower frame rate, and new autofocus design - we'll have to wait and see on the reviews to see how it stacks up against the likes of the Canon 5D Mk III and Nikon D800, as it isn't really competing on price (with the D800, at least).

The RX1 on the other hand, is a completely new and different beast. It packs the same sensor into a compact body, similar to Fujifilm's X100, with a fixed 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss lens. Again, this camera will live or die by it's image quality - it's not just the sensor it shares with the A99, coming in at $2,800, the same as it's traditional looking big brother. Personally, I hope it will give way to an interchangeable lens version, à la the Leica M series. Imagine the NEX camera with this awesome retro styling, full frame sensor and pro level glass.

Yeah.

I'll be waiting for DP Review to have their way with both of these cameras, particularly the A99, to see if I stick with Sony. With both Canon and Nikon slated to release entry level full frame bodies this week, things may start to get heated.

Exciting times.

Tomorrow's The Big Day

By the time you all wake up in the morning (well, most of you) the world would have been graced with a new iPhone.

What will most likely be called the iPhone 5 (the press event invite doesn't leave much room to move there), has a number of rumours surrounding it's launch, ranging from a new dock connector (which itself has a few rumours under it's belt) to a taller screen.

Depending which sites you follow and whose word you believe, you may have a few ideas of your own what the next version of the halo device for the little Cupertino company that could might bring with it. I do, too, so here they are, in no particular order:

  • Slightly new design, and slightly (10-15mm) taller, to accommodate...

  • A larger screen. God forbid a 4.8" Galaxy monster (luckily I think Jony Ive knows better), I think it will be as long rumoured: 4", with the difference being entirely in the vertical sizing of the display. Still Retina, but 1136x640 as opposed to the current 960x640.

  • International LTE. This one has no particular evidence to back it up, just a hunch. With the US now having a quite a large LTE footprint, it wouldn't make sense for Apple to release it without at least US-compatible LTE. But after the iPad (3) 4G debacle here in Australia, I'm not sure Apple would be so stupid again. With the Lumia 920 supporting pentaband LTE, as long as Apple can get the battery life they need, I'm reasonably confident it will happen. Lastly, both Telstra and Optus are currently pushing out their 4G networks quite quickly all of a sudden - the former making lots of expansions in the coming months, and the latter rolling theirs out with haste. I wonder why?

  • The usual, incremental updates to the camera. The iPhone 4S' camera is already pretty good, so not much needs to be done here. Better low light performance would be my only request - 8MP is more than enough for my needs on a phone.

  • Some yet unknown feature of iOS 6, that will most likely only be compatible with the iPhone 5 (and possibly the iPad (3) and iPad mini/air/Jr). Be it some new side to Passbook, or further integration with Siri, I have no idea what it will be, just pure speculation.

Whatever will be released tomorrow, I'm positive there will be equal parts love and hate for it. That we can always be sure of.

Apple vs Samsung: The Verdict

It can be easily summed up in this single sentence by The Verge's Nilay Patel:

There is no way to interpret this as anything but a sweeping, definitive victory for Apple.

And that it is.

These are the software patents the Apple presented to the jury:

  • The '381 patent for the "bounce back" for scrolling on devices
  • The '915 patent for the the "pinch-to-zoom" aspect of mobile device use
  • The '163 patent for the "tap-to-zoom" aspect of mobile device use

The jury found Samsung guilty of knowingly and willingly infringing all of these patents with the vast majority of the alleged devices (all of them in regards to the '381 patent), and found Apple not guilty on any count.

And these are the design patents:

  • The D'677 patent on the "uncluttered front face, display borders, front speaker slot and edge to edge glass of a smartphone"

  • The D'087 patent for the "home button, uncluttered front face, rounded corners and front edge border of a smartphone"

  • The D'305 patent for "the general grid layout for icons, and a dock of separate icons at the bottom of the mobile device display"

  • The D'889 patent for the "thin bezel, outer edge border, rounded corners, edge to edge front glass and minimalist aesthetics on the front, sides and back of a tablet".

Samsung was found to have knowingly and willingly infringed on patents D'677 and '305, and not to have infringed patent D'889 at all.

The jury also found Samsung to have diluted the iPhone's trade dress, which is the idea of a consumer associating a particular look with a company - in this case the look of the iPhone (and all of Samsung's smartphones) and the association with Apple.

The court awarded Apple $1,049,343,540 in damages (US$1.049 billion) as a result of all of this, with this number being higher due to the jury ruling Samsung had purposely infringed Apple's patents and trade dress.

There is still a lot to work out, and much more to come. There has been an injunction hearing scheduled for September 20th. As the jury found a large number of Samsung devices to be infringing, and a number of them are still for sale in the US, Apple will likely be pushing for them to be removed from sale. The long term impacts of this case on the industry are yet to be known, but it is definitely a monumental case.

For more analysis, check out The Verge's exhaustive coverage of the verdict from their expert panel.

Microsoft Launches New Company-Wide Logo

Matt Alexander hits the nail on the head with his thoughts on the new Microsoft logo:

Following this analogy, although the logo has shed its italicized aesthetic for a colorful Metro-centric look, it’s important to remember that Microsoft is still Microsoft. Steve Balmer remains at the helm, innovative elements of the company continue to be quashed, and the company has yet to make good on a great many of its promises for the future. I certainly hope Microsoft does attain all that it has set out to achieve, but any optimism I may hold is not derived from any “newness and freshness” of the logo.

I completely agree. Microsoft's new logo would be fitting, had they continued on their Metro-branded path and taken to entire company in that bold, new direction.

But they didn't.

They wimped out on their branding, and chose to continue offering the traditional Windows desktop across the board with the upcoming Windows 8, out of fear that their beloved enterprise would revolt. Because of this, the new, modern, simplified logo does not suit Microsoft anymore today than it would have a decade ago.

The success of Windows 8 isn't going to come from the enterprise - they are only just hesitantly dipping their toes into 7. It will come from the consumer, using it on their new Surface tablet. I hope for Microsoft that they do get the success that they're looking for, if not for any reason other than to keep Apple on their toes. But unless they get some balls and make some bold new moves that extend further than simply changing the logo of the company, I remain sceptical it will happen.

(Side note: A few people have been mentioning that the logo is very Windows centric, and that doesn't fit the company as that is not their only product. Thought: what if it becomes their only product? The Xbox is looking more and more like Windows with each passing update.)

How Ben Brooks Uses His G4 Mac Mini, And How I Use Mine

Ben uses a rather convoluted way of streaming media to his iOS device, then AirPlaying it to the Apple TV, which he outlines in greater detail on The Brooks Review. I have the exact same Mac Mini, and use it in a similar, but much, much simpler way.

My Mac Mini lives on my desk, and like Ben's, it is left to it's own devices to keep TV shows up to date. It's wired up with Ethernet (granted it's only 100BASET), which connects my desk through to the lounge. On it I run some software called PlayBack from Yazsoft, which is essentially a UPnP streaming client. This works flawlessly with both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, where my Mini shows up as a media server.

That was the simple way. But, I too have an Apple TV, and wanted to be able to stream media to it as well.

After some quick searching, I came up with FireCore's aTV Flash Black, which, yes, does require you to jailbreak your Apple TV (which is actually quite a simple process), but the possibilities it opens up are worth it. The Apple TV can now browse the shared folders on my Mini just like any computer would, so all you have to do to stream your media is share the drive or folder it lives in - in my case, a set of external drives. The best part? The Apple TV takes care of all the decoding, and can handle 720p MKV files with 5.1 channel audio, as well as all the h.264 compressed AVIs getting around these days.

The only thing holding my Mini back is that Fast Ethernet connection.

(via The Loop)

"Metro" Now "Windows 8-Style UI"

Peter Bright, at Ars:

But sources are telling us that this is coming to an abrupt end after the company's Legal and Corporate Affairs team sent out a memo banning the word "Metro." LCA's memo reportedly says that Microsoft has been threatened with legal action for infringing on "Metro" trademarks held by German retailer Metro AG.

From now on, the new terminology that Microsoft is using is "Windows 8-style UI" when talking about Windows 8 applications, and "New User Interface" when talking about the company's full product line-up.

Marketing genius.

Apple Granted Temporary Injunction Against Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Matt Macari:

Reuters legal reporter Dan Levine, who was in the courtroom for the ruling, has indicated that the injunction focuses on Samsung's infringement of the '604 patent, and that the injunction can go into effect after Apple posts a bond of around $96 million. The '604 patent covers searching multiple sources of information (on a device and elsewhere) through a single search interface, a lot like Apple's Siri. That's a big deal because the infringement finding is directed to core voice and search functionality within Android. And that's before considering the recent introduction of the Google Now system.

Damn. That's a harsh blow to both Samsung and Google, especially after I/O this week. Luckily Australia isn't affected (as usual), business idea anyone?

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Won't Support Mobile Flash, New Installs Disabled on August 15

Chris Ziegler, The Verge:

[...] Adobe has issued a note saying that it hasn't been developing and testing Flash against it and there won't be any "certified implementations" offered — in other words, the age of Flash on smartphones is effectively drawing to a close. [...] If you still want to install Flash on your phone, now is the time to do it: Adobe says that it will be disabling fresh installs from Google Play on August 15th, meaning you'll only be able to update after that point if you already have it installed.

Surprise surprise. And the iPhone has always been lesser because it didn't have Flash...can't wait to see some of Gruber's [claim chowder] on this one.

Russell Ivanovic's Thoughts on the New Apple Podcasts App

Russell, on the Shift Jelly blog:

When we started building Pocket Casts well over 2 years ago, we were very confident that Apple would make their own app one day. We were also very confident that they would keep it clean, minimal and give it a feature set that would only appeal to casual podcast listeners. In our eyes that’s exactly what they released today, it’s a great application but it’s really not what we as podcast fans wanted.

I couldn't agree more. As an avid podcast listener, the features given by Apple's podcast features in the Music.app and now even the standalone Podcasts.app aren't quite insufficient. I purchased Instacast (sorry, Russell) a few months ago now and haven't looked back since. I'm undecided if the shift to a separate app is going to be good for the podcast medium, but I guess time will tell.

Facebook Rebuilding iOS App In Objective-C

Nick Bilton, at the NY Times Blog:

At Apple’s App Store, out of 38,000 reviews, more than 21,000 customers have given the app a measly single star. Users repeatedly describe the app as slow, crashes, stinks, fail and “is always loading.” […]Thankfully that’s all going to change next month. According to two Facebook engineers who asked not be named because they are not authorized to speak about unreleased products, Facebook has completely rebuilt its iOS application to optimize for one thing: speed.

Finally. I really don't know why it's taken so long for them to do it, the HTML wrapped up in a little Objective-C has been antagonising (obviously, going by those one-star reviews) for too long.

via ONE37

Retina MacBook Pro Can Run Four Displays At Once

Dante D'Orazio, The Verge:

We plugged in two 1080p monitors using DVI to Mini DisplayPort adapters and connected another 1600 x 900 monitor over HDMI, and all of the displays lit up with Lion's well-known Andromeda Galaxy wallpaper. The 15.4-inch Retina display itself clocks in at a whopping 2880 x 1800, which means that the computer was pushing out a total of 10.7 million pixels when hooked up to the three external monitors.

If 10.7 million pixels isn't enough for you, OWC did the same thing with two 27" iMacs in display mode and a HD display, totalling 14.84 million pixels.

How To Waste $6 Billion

Sean Gallagher, over at Ars:

JTRS provides a textbook case of what not to do in a technology development program, proving that even a few great ideas can’t save a project that has been over-specified and under-tested, and that remains blinkered to what's going on in the world around it.

[…]In the end, building a radio that worked with all the different waveforms envisioned by the project required bending some fundamental rules of physics.

And the US wonder why they are in so much debt. $6 Billion on a radio system that will never see the light of day.