"Look Wendy I Can Fly"!

It was the iPhone's 10th birthday this month. It's astonishing it's been ten years since it was originally unveiled! Time has flown by. Ten years seems like a good way to think back to the state of my 'personal computing' from 2007.

I had a Mac laptop, as I do now, the tiny for its time 12" PowerBook connected to some monitor, a Nintendo DS Lite and some Nokia phone I don't care fondly enough for (it had WAP). I also had home wifi.

In 2007 wherever I went, the PowerBook went with me, and I travelled to where there was WiFi. It seems brutal for a workflow and unbelievable that that was how I operated casually in the computing world only ten years.

I want to sing a little praise in this blog post for the iPhone's most useful feature as I put my new website design through its paces. That is the always on connection to an LTE network and the Personal Hotspot function.

We use to 'dial into' the Internet, today it's ever present. Always on Internet is something we generally take for granted now. Anybody born into the world today won't even think about the Internet, just like children in the 80s readily accepted television. I do remember being astonished when my parents mentioned their lives before microwaves and televisions. 

I was astonished with the introduction of the first iPhone (the way Steve Jobs presented the iPhone helped). That January keynote was one to remember if you were able to watch it live, I saw myself being able to use the future that I had seen on 'Star Trek' ten years prior. I could see it, but certainly not feel it like I do today! Wait for the kids who wonder what we did prior to the ubiquity of the Internet and the smartphone.

In 2007 I really couldn't envision a 2017 Jonathan.

I'm reminded at work almost every time I can access anything I want, specifically 'YouTube' when my 4-5 year old students get annoyed with the load times as they don't understand the nuance between the screen of a TV and a smartphone. I'm fine with the load times. SIDE NOTE: I'm beginning to see what a 'generational divide' is.

I'm reminded at home when I realise how easy it is to tether my laptop to my iPhone, along with an iPad, and a second backup iPhone. It's the utility of both the mobile connection and the phone combined. I have all four devices running and operating on my own wifi network generated by a device smaller than a video cassette! For others with the iPhone SE, a cassette tape! The wifi is also faster than the wifi I had ten years ago!*

My favourite reminder is to have fired up something like Periscope, Twitter, download some updates all simultaneously on my various devices. It's a little thing personal to me I know. I am just still able to marvel at this ability. Credit goes to the countless developers and engineers on both the network side and the device to make it happen. Everything complex and computer related is interwoven into the radio frequencies surrounding us. It's easy to forget the progress we've made and along with all the hidden difficulty.

We've all heard that story about the computing power of a smartphone today is more powerful than what we had when we went to the moon. It's true, but it isn't a metric we can personally measure the progress of and compare against. I'm sure you have your own story about how your life has changed in the last ten years since the iPhone was shown off. Share it in the comments if you want.

I think back ten years to scoff at what I could do then compared to today. Now I look forward to see what we will have over the next ten years.

*My apartment in HK is old, cable or some wired internet service with a wireless router is pointless so that is why everything is run off the mobile.

 

 

Live Streaming Workflows

I wasn't surprised when I saw that the newly released top end 9.7" iPad Pro is the same price as the top end iPhone 6s+. I'm just noodling here as I put more into live-streaming and create a device workflow around live-streaming to mitigate connectivity or image quality issues I might have. By considering either one of these screens as a secondary iOS device I want to:

  • shoot 4K footage and take decent pictures (alongside the live-streaming)
  • replace my home WiFi (old Chinese apartments are limited to 2mbps)
  • have a back up Internet device (a mobile hotspot device)

As mobile devices (can someone come up with a better name yet*) technology advances, my retro digital camera is proving itself to be a bit of a stuck in the mud. (Of course it is, it's retro!) Any new purchase would also need to replace my digital camera. 

The general utility of an iOS device isn't interested in being anchored down by cables and with work flows crossing over to a desktop computer before final upload. I'm adapting my work flow to not concern itself over Raw handling and image quality. I think the tradeoffs are there where I can say it's good enough now on a mobile device. 

Just for the record, the price of a replacement camera for my Fuji x100s is also roughly the same price as either of the two iOS devices. Amazing hey? Now which iOS device to buy?

The basic internal specs of both devices are the same with a few features leapfrogging the iPhone for the moment. A data plan is basically the same with both devices so we can ignore that. So it comes down to these basic things:

  • Battery life 
  • Portability 
  • Screen size (workflow dependent)

Battery Life

Hands down, the iPad wins and as a base station outside the house it's much better than the puny battery in the iPhone 6s+ to provide internet connectivity to say a laptop. I still hope Apple bring out a battery pack for this larger model. Periscoping hammers the battery and I've never benefitted from going from an iPhone5 to the iPhone6s+ when it comes to battery life. WINNER - iPad. 

Portability

Both devices are already super thin and this is truly a first world problem for the minimalist such as myself. But still, which one? I can easily hold two iPhones together, one streaming, one shooting 4K (some velcro will solve that). I wouldn't be drawing attention to myself too much with that set up. Now live stream with an iPad and iPhone combo, it's a bit more awkward. WINNER - iPhone. 

Screen Size

Do I want to edit my work on a 9" screen or a 5" screen? Do I want to multitask with the iPad or solo task on the iPhone? Don't forget this is a secondary device, so each device can operate independently of each other. But what is the benefit of the larger screen? WINNER - Unknown

But the iPhone 7 (Conclusion)

This basically means can I and should I wait with what I have already? What will the next generation phone bring, especially when it comes to image quality? The potential downside to waiting for an iPhone7 means I'm only six months away from another, better iPad! This throws up the issue of whether to buy now or buy for tomorrow. I would like to buy for tomorrow (with portability in mind), while the iPad does have the better battery, I do have power packs at my disposal, ready to fast charge both iPhones if I opt for that and in all honesty am I going to use both devices constantly? The screen size doesn't need to be an issue if I can multitask on two phones and of course, two iPhones are smaller than an iPad!   

* I like the German name for a mobile phone, 'handy', which they most certainly are.

UPDATE: I forgot Apple released this as well. It basically means I can plug in a USB microphone and charge both the iOS device and said microphone, not an issue for a fully charged iPad, but the iPhone itself has become a lot more flexible because of a $300HKD add-on for either my periscopes or podcasts.

UPDATE 2: No optical stabiliser on the iPad, you'd think with that bump that justified the newest protrusion to the iOS family, alas no. It's more likely I'll purchase a second iPhone.

The Things You Own, End Up 0wning You.

I'm writing this on my MacBook while waiting for a 30 minute, 4k video to finish processing on my iPhone 6s+. My hope is I don't get a phone call, I also hope my phone's screen doesn't get accidentally powered off as well. The end result of these two things happening would be the same - a cancelled export process with little old me having to start again, or shock, transfer the video over to the Mac so the process won't be disturbed by someone ringing me or it can chug along easily as a background process. This destroys the idea of doing everything on the iPhone.

Let's comment on the smaller issue of the two first: iOS needs to let iMovie run in the background.

My iPhone can't do anything, not even power its screen off for convenience until the task has been completed. Being able to pause itself at the very least would be more pleasant while I commit to something in another app. I learnt the hard way with previously failed projects; once iMovie has committed to exporting a movie, YOU LET IT EXPORT A MOVIE! The iPhone doesn't multitask with iMovie, shame about iPad Pro users then, just sitting there with the same constraints. Hope you already have music playing in the background while you're twiddling your thumbs, luckily the iPhone isn't my only device.

Now I realise all the power of the A9 might not be capable of what I'm asking yet. But there needs to be a middle space in the app  to recognise what I've described is inconvenient and it needs resolving. Maybe a new update to iMovie will fix this?

The larger issue I have with the iPhone is in two pieces. The phone app, first its ability to kill a process running in another app and second, take that work away from you (of course this can depend on the developer). The behaviour of the phone app is anachronistic and ignorant of other (more) important uses of such an iOS device today. An app like Periscope for me takes precedence over everything else and we both demand each other's attention. I don't want that app or any other app to be disturbed. I actually kill phone calls while periscoping.

As per Apple's plan I am doing exactly what their marketing suggests I do; get some massive utility out of their latest and greatest. I am capable of doing more on my iPhone each year. The abilities do come with personal preferences and workflows, mine don't include the phone, so it's jarring when the phone makes itself feel present. I expect newer behaviours to appear on the iPhone to allow me to enjoy what I think is the priority application of the phone.

I know the reason why the iPhone app is allowed to kill any other processes, but I don't care, let the phone app hold up a red badge like every other app that demands my attention. Is it too much to ask for a kill switch? I don't want to use DND (doesn't work as intended) or toggle my wifi and micromanage certain usage scenarios. I just want to get on with MY work over everybody else's or worse still some robodialer.

In German, a 'mobile telephone' translates as being a 'handy', and the iPhone certainly is that, but it would be handier still if it was compliant with what I want from it and not what history is dictating.

Take the 'phone' out of iPhone.