Alrighty, now. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty (and that can hurt!), assessing what made the final cut for iOS 6, which will be available on Wed, Sept 19th for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. As for which iOS devices will run what:
- iPhone 3GS and later
- iPad 2nd Generation (2011) and later
- iPod touch 4th Gen and later
As we’ve discussed previously, it would be grand if all devices, no matter how old, could run every new system update, but it’s just not practical or productive. Older hardware was the best and most powerful possible at the time of its release but as we all know, technology is a hungry beast and soon eats its young… no, wait… that’s not right. Technology constantly works to improve its capabilities and range. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called technology, right? So, moving right along (hurry up!) if you wrote the software limiting it to what the oldest device could do, we’d all be pretty unhappy, bored consumers right now. And who wants that? The Quakers? Maybe, yeah.
Let’s run down the projections from iSensei’s post from Sept 10 and see where the surprises are. I’m leaving up the old posting rather than repeat all the specifics therein, focusing now on the core functionalities and anything new gleaned from the Sept 12 presentation. Which is now available as an HD video stream on the Apple site. Go Phil Schiller!
Passbook - Like I said then, this is a pretty cool thing. It lets your iPhone and iPod touches store and act as ever-current tickets, boarding passes, loyalty programs, coupons and the like. They also provide status updates on how much you have left on your prepaid Starbucks card or if a flight has changed gates. This technology is open to other vendors to take advantage of and you can bet they will, especially given the millions and millions of devices that can run this.
One of the things iSensei alluded to in his earlier post was that Apple chose this path rather than NFC or, as it’s affectionately known, ‘Near Field Communication’. When a NFC chip is placed in a smartphone or similar device, it enables one to check out at the counter in a store, which uses specially equipped cash registers that detect the NFC-embedded thing in your hand and completes the transaction wirelessly. No messy removing the credit card from the wallet. Eww.
Not a bad idea, necessarily, BUT, it requires new equipment on the vendor’s side plus the possibility of someone standing close by (real close) capturing the signal. Not so easy to do but… Passbook, on the other hand, works with existing barcode scanners, which are everywhere. You just pass your Apple device over the scanner. Period (as far as iSensei knows). Advantages: no additional equipment purchase, setup or training required and established as very secure. Needless to say, Google’s pushing NFC with it’s Android partners. Let’s see how all this shakes out over time.
New 3D Mapping System – Now that Apple has dumped Google Maps for its own built in-house mapping and directional system, we’re going to see a much more sophisticated graphics approach. Rather than blownup bitmaps, which may or may not have a good photo to represent the locales (Google maps has a rotten shot of our house, hidden in back of a giant earth digger that was parked in front that day, 5+ years ago.) Apple’s approach is to construst all-new vector-based 3D buildings, streets, landmarks, etc for a faster, cleaner look. You can smoothly move around a scene from any angle, while it always remains fully rendered, because now you’re calling up mathematical constructions rather than large photo images over the cellular network or WiFi, which makes a big diff.
Turn-by-turn directions, a lovely guidance system, live traffic reports with suggested alternate routes and a bunch of other useful features should make this a joy to use. Particularly sweet if you have a passenger with an iPad!
Facebook integration - Yes, it will be integrated with your Contacts, Calendar, Maps location, etc. Pretty much everywhere. If you like to post to FB, you’ll be in obsessive communication heaven.
Do Not Disturb - Well, we guess so. There was no mention of it in the presentation nor on the Apple site, but iSensei is pretty sure we’ll see this little helper that’ll get the damn iPhone to leave us alone for a while.
Shared Photo Streams - The following is all true: you’ll be able to select certain pictures in your Photo Stream to share with specific friends, family, acolytes, etc. which will be viewable via iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, iPhoto or Aperture on a Mac, or on the web and of course, Apple TV. People using iOS devices or Macs running Mountain Lion can get them right on those devices. Anyone bereft of those options can simply go to a website and voila! (damn, I can’t use that more that once in a post! How about ‘Viola!’ Hmm?)
3G FaceTime - Yup, you can use either a cellular connection or WiFi to FaceTime it with your, ahem, homeys (or is it homies?). As previously reported, someone calls you from their iPhone, you can answer on your iPad or your Mac. Maybe, someday, we’ll all be comfy making video phone calls. Maybe…
Siri -Oh, yeah, you can post to FB with Siri. Lucky you! Your office mates will LOVE to listen to those one-sided exchanges. Whatever. Siri offers restaurant recommendations, dinner reservations; movie times, reviews and locales; oh and don’t forget the sports scores and game schedules! Plus, if you speak a foreign language, Siri’s likely to understand it. Or at least do a terrible imitation of its accent!
Actually, Siri’s pretty cool once you get used to using it (her?). It can decipher straightforward commands like: “tell my wife I’m running 15 minutes late”. I mean, now you have someone who doesn’t mind lying for you. Sweet!
Seriously though, the one function I believe people foolishly underuse is the ability to dictate speech. iSensei totally groks this. Rather than typing on the little iPhone faux-keyboard, he just taps a button, speaks clearly, taps the button again and voila! It’s all typed out, likely faster and better than his stubby little hands could have done. iSensei demands all his acolytes try this right now and see the joy and happiness awaiting you. Just say: “What can you do for me?” for some examples. You’ll be glad you did.
OK, what didn’t come up last time? Well, mainly tweaks to existing apps, but that’s OK too. Let’s hit them quickly.
Safari - iCloud tabs is new and nice. You open a tab or three on your iPhone, then when you go to Safari on your Mac, there they are! Big help for improved workflow and keeping up with your favorite Cat sites (yuck). If you want to post a photo or video on a particular site (eBay, whatever) you can choose from your existing iPhoto library OR capture the image right there and then, within Safari. Smooth.
Mail - VIP list (choose whose special in your life) and yadda yadda. (You can tell iSensei is running out of steam here, much like you.)
Phone - (Wait, this thing has a phone??) Nice touches introduced. When you get a call and can’t (or don’t WANT to) take it, you have more options now than just sending them straight to voice mail hell. With a single button you can reply with a canned (pre-defined) message, such as “I’ll call you back” or “I’m on my way” or even “Why the hell are you calling ME?!” (but that would be rude). You can also select the option (which is very desirable, we think) to remind one later to call that poor soul back (because we always forget and that’s awkward.)
So, in conclusion, we knew what we knew and we didn’t what we didn’t. And the world is a better place for it. Watch for upcoming reviews of life with an actual iPhone 5 (whatya think, the black? My 4S was white and that was nice but…)
Labelled “the ultimate iPhone, iPad and iPod manager”, iExplorer 3 does seems to be a very comprehensive piece of work. iSensei has long had PhoneView from Ecamm Network in his dock for its ability to look into the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch as if they were a mounted hard drive, able to view and manipulate individual files directly, which you can’t do within the devices themselves nor from iTunes. This new iExplorer from Macroplant seems to take that concept even further.
As you can see from this screenshot (don’t ask iSensei who this ‘Ricardo’ is. No idea) you can view your IM messages, contacts, notes, photos & videos, apps, iCloud files, call history, voicemail messages, etc. etc. Pretty much everything that’s stored on your iOS device, including what you’ve worked on in 3rd party apps! You can drag off music to your computer and it’ll even skip any duplicates.
Nice to be able to see the specs of your device and what you’ve consumed in memory. It’s clean, nicely designed and could be an iSensei Essential. The stickler is the price: $35. That’s a bit steep, in our book. (Still, PhoneView is only $5 less and doesn’t seem to do quite as much and certainly not as purty.) And, like PV, it does support ALL iPod touches, iPhones and iPads ever created. It’s Mountain Lion-ready and Retina Display enhanced.
This is a tough one. iSensei may just have to forego his 3-martini lunch tomorrow and buy this sucker. Check it out and let us know what YOU think!
What We Know That We Were Already Pretty Sure Of
(And what we didn’t)
Well, the Big Day has come and gone and what have we learned? For one thing, we learned iSensei is a pretty good judge of impending iPhones. Let’s take his posting from the other day and see what, if anything, he missed. (Unlikely, being so wise and all but…)
- Larger 4″ (diagonal) screen - Yup. (but that was easy) In terms of specifics: 1136×640 pixel resolution (iPhone 4S was 960×640) and an improved screen ratio of 16:9, same as HDTV/film proportions. Now the movies won’t get cropped off at the sides. Sweet. Whatever content is still in 4:3 ratio will just float on a black background. 44% better color saturation. Not 43 or 45. Exactly 44. Also, thinner cover over the actual screen, which will reduce glare. Good.
- Larger case - See first entry. But, get this, even with the taller configuration (in portrait mode) the whole thing is 18% thinner and 20% lighter! Same width as the 4S. 7.66 mm thin, thinnest phone out there. Less than ⅓ of an inch. (Watch for paper-thin iPhone 6, coming in 2013!) Heck, the new iPod touch (more on that later) is less than ¼ of an inch thick!!
- Metal back - “Slate Black” and “Silver Aluminum” finish. OK, close enough.
- New smaller dock connector - Tagged that one. Called Lightning (uh, ok… better than “9-pin Connector” we presume). Now, we can all admit that having to buy new chargers and such (or at least Apple’s converters) is no fun. I can accept though, after almost 10 years (a millennia in computer years) of the fairly large 30-pin connector that to make these devices smaller, lighter and capable of more, you’re be foolish NOT to introduce a smaller, faster and better version. Best part, it’s reversible, so there’s no wrong way to insert it. Adapters are at a premium price ($29/just adapter & $39/full cable), which is not the iSensei way. It’s like they WANT to make money! Sheesh. The iMan would have given them away.
- Headphone jack on the bottom - Yeah. I guess it is. I hope the new 9-pin adapters will accommodate the headphone jack at the bottom, given how most iOS devices sit, bottom down, in speakers, chargers and the like.
- New iOS (operating system) – But of course - version 6.0. I’ll be covering the details of this, as there are many, in a separate iOS 6 posting. The release date for this new iOS is Wed, Sept 19th. See this post for what iOS devices can run it.
- More Siri - Yup, again. More speakable access to data. Plus, thank Jobs, you can launch apps verbally! More on this in iOS 6 report.
- Improved earbuds, nay, Earpods! - Totally! These things look very nice. Completely redesigned for the ear, with better noise reduction and a more comfortable fit. Additional speaker for midrange. Still the trademark Apple white. Shipping today for $29.
- 4G/LTE - Exactly. All U.S. carriers will broadcast on this soon, if they don’t already. The major ones do now. Meaning? Considerably faster cellular connection.
- 3D - Nope. Stereo speakers - Didn’t think so. NFC - It won’t, so don’t even bother to ask what the hell that is.
BOOM! 100% for the iSensei!! The NFC (Near Field Communication) was what many people expected. Instead, we got a whole different approach with PASSBOOK, which we’ll discuss more in the iOS report.
OK, that’s the rundown from iSensei’s 9/10 post. Let’s see what else was added that wasn’t even on our radar…
- New A6 Processor. Twice as fast as the A5 that was in last year’s iPhone 4S. They did some demos using games, which always tax the system the most, and Wow. This thing looks and responds as well as a full console unit. Zoom!
- Faster, better Bluetooth connection (v.4), which is good, because there’s a lot of BT speakers, headphones, mice, etc out there and iSensei finds BT too wonky too much of the time.
- WiFi improved - A very good thing, given how much we’re all relying on it and more all the time. We could throw some tech specs at ya: 802.11n 2.4 & 5 gHz, up to 150 mbps, so there!
- Battery life boosted - Despite what this more ambitious system consumes, you’ll get 10 of WiFi, 8 hours LTE/4G talk, 10 hours video, 40 hrs music and 225 hours standby time. (But seriously, who ever goes 10 days without using their iPhone? More like 10 minutes for the Worldly Wise One.)
- Groovier Front-Facing (iSight) Camera - iPhone has had a great camera, certainly since the 4S. Here they tweaked all the 4S specs to get more out of them. Still has 8 megapixel lens, creating images 3264×2448 pixels. Has a sapphire lens cover for protection (and don’t you just LOVE sapphire?!) Better noise reduction, especially in low light. 40% faster at snapping shots. Very good. And, built-in Panorama functionality. Not a new concept, as the iPhone has had 3rd party apps to do this and many other (otherwise inferior!) smartphones already had it. It’s a sweet trick: the camera guides you along on how to move it to capture shots that exceed the width of the normal lens and stitches them together to create one great big panoramic image. Awesome on trips and vacations. Oh, and it can now take still shots while capturing video! Slick trick.
- Improved Back-facing (FaceTime) Camera - Now you can use FaceTime over 3G at 720p HD video. You’ve never looked better!
- Upgraded Audio - Better (tiny) speakers with noise canceling for speakerphone. Built-in earpiece also has noise canceling. It captures a broader sampling of sound coming into phone, should make caller sound fuller, less tinny.
Same prices as last year’s 4S for much more of a phone. Without contract? You don’t want to know. If you have to ask…
What We Think We Know But Aren’t Sure
(Always a Fool’s Mission)
OK, with only a few days to go (anxious!), iSensei is going to stick his neck out and GUESS what he thinks the iPhone 5 will have, now that we’re pretty sure (but not certain) that it will be called the iPhone 5. Let’s get to it:
- Larger 4″ screen - Yeah, hard to be wrong on that. Too much circumstantial evidence plus it makes sense given how competitor’s phones screens have grown. Will likely accommodate another row of icons/apps on the home screen and a wider picture/video experience, which’ll be nice. Oh, and definitely keeping the Retina Display. It’s so sweet.
- Larger case to accommodate new screen – About as wide, a little thinner (cool) but a millimeter or two taller. Should keep it from becoming one of those awkward “mini-tablets” some of the new Android phones are.
- Metal back - Probably. More durable than glass or plastic, though probably plastic on the top and bottom of the back for improved antenna range. These things are filled with antennas.
- New smaller dock connector - Makes sense. Old 30-pin version you use for syncing and charging now has been around quite a while and they can free up a fair amount of space inside by miniaturizing the plugs. Apple will sell adapters for about $10 a pop. iSensei would prefer free but that’s just not going to happen. We’ll all adjust. Trust me.
- Headphone jack on the bottom - Yeah? Really? Why? Though, the way iSensei puts his phone in his pocket (bottom side up) may be the way many others use it so, easier on the headphone jacks. We’ll see.
- New iOS (operating system) – Most definitely – version 6.0. They always release a new one to take advantage of the new hardware. Will likely also run on iPhone 4 and 4S (and iPad 3) offering them some additional benefits, but not everything the 5 will be able to do. Maybe not earlier models than those. Forces the software to be too weak to accommodate the slower, less powerful hardware.
- More Siri - Yup. Definitely lots more data on sports and movies, the two most highly requested categories of info. Beyond that, hopefully a more robust upgrade, moving it out of “beta”. Siri’s a great idea but needs muscle. Too skinny now.
- Improved earbuds - Sounds possible. It’s amazing Apple’s never upgraded the funky white ‘buds that have come with every iPod/iPhone since 500 A.D.
- 4G/LTE - That faster phone/network connection that the iPad 3 got in the Spring. Very welcome, if so. Likely.
- 3D - Nope. Stereo speakers - Don’t think so. NFC - It won’t, so don’t even bother to ask what the hell that is.
Alright, well, enough speculatin’ for now. The real deal will be on display this coming Wednesday the 12th so be sure to check back later in the day for iSensei to brag “I told you so!” (except iSensei wouldn’t use the pronoun “I”, so there. Not unless he’s had too much of his ‘Special Sauce’ at least…)
Thanks to techradar.com for the iPhone image but not the snappy comment.
To Undercover the Final Truths, click here
OK gang, the old “i” has been sweating over this one for more than a month. And we think you’re going to get a lot of use out of this feature. iSensei’s calling it “Geekspeak Explained” and though much of this isn’t really that technical, it is an area where a number of people have a lot of questions (“What’s this for? What does this do?” etc). Here we cover all the major computer concepts that you’re likely to run into (or maybe should!) while working in the Mac/Apple bio-structure.
You’ll never again be caught offguard at a cocktail party when someone asks: “Do you prefer IEEE 1394 or Thunderbolt aka Light Peak for data transmission?” Trés Embarrassmont!