Apple Hardware

iPhone 5 Teardown

iFixit posted their teardown and as always it’s fascinating to look at. Chipworks did some analysis as well. Some observations:

  • Easier to repair – Looks to be substantially easier to repair than previous iPhones. Major win.
  • Broadcom nearly expunged? – Apple looks to be moving away from using Broadcom chips. The Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controller looks like all that’s left. I’m surprised as the iPad 3 included the Broadcom BCM4330 wireless chip. I assumed that would be in there.
  • New WiFi Chip – Interestingly Apple instead of a Broadcom BCM4330 went with a Murata 339S0171. Murata is apparently based on a Broadcom BCM4334 + Skyworks frontend chips according to Chipworks. Guessing this saves at the very least space. Possibly also power. Apple must be serious about cutting size/weight.
  • Lots of Qualcomm inside – Not a shocker for an LTE device.
  • Got rid of the linear oscillating vibrator – I wonder why this is. It seems in every way superior to keep the linear oscillating vibrator vs the rotational motor with counterweight. No idea why they would have done that. Cost?
  • Easier to repair home button? – The home button is the weak point of the iPhone hardware wise. It inevitably becomes less sensitive, and for some will just die. This appears to be stronger and easier to repair.
  • Sony based image sensor – Chipworks identified the rear camera as a Sony design, but not much than that. The Galaxy SIII uses the Sony IMX145, which the iPhone 4S also used. Presumably this is the next generation based on the specs.

On Apple Maps

Apple switching from Google Maps to its own “creation” is a pretty interesting move. By “creation” I of course mean a mashup of TomTom data and OpenStreetMap data among other sources with their own vector maps and 3D imaging. The 3D thing is a cool effect, but that’s all it is, an effect. I can’t think of many, if any practical uses for it.

The maps from a visual standpoint are quite nice. They look great and are quite readable. At least as good, if not better than Google Maps. The quality of the data however is pretty terrible. The maps are sometimes incomplete and things aren’t placed correctly.

In my opinion the worst offense is the lack of public transit data. For larger cities like New York, San Francisco, London that is a high-profile gap. Given the size of the population in those cities (and how much of the press operates out of those), it just makes the problem that much worse. Given that data is pretty accessible (NY’s MTA even has a website dedicated to it), I can’t see how they let that one slip. Simply showing stations and what trains are there would have been a huge improvement.

The upside to all this is maps is really a web-based service. That means Apple can iterate on it 24×7 without having to release a ton of updates. That means the maps in theory will improve in quality over time without most people even realizing.

That said, cartography is really difficult stuff.


MakerBot Replicator 2

MakerBot Replicator™ 2

The MakerBot Replicator™ 2 is pretty amazing when you think about it. I’m pretty certain there is a future in 3D printing. It may eventually even be the successor to physical mail in many cases. Simply order and print out your product. Perhaps the order will reimburse you the material used to output your product. Instant delivery not even Amazon could beat with the warehouse model.

It’s hard to justify the purchase of one today, but make no mistake, these things have a future somewhere.

Around The Web Funny

Chimp Paparazzi

Laetitia Casta Chimp Photo

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Laetitia Casta in a photoshoot with a chimpanzee behind the camera. Egotastic has the full set of photos. What a goofy yet clever idea.

I might love monkeys.

Image Credit: Egotastic

Around The Web Tech (General)

Boosted Boards

The Boosted Board is essentially a motorized skateboard with the purpose of being your vehicle of choice for the “last mile”. For example getting you from that train/bus to your destination. It’s a really clever idea with some pretty awesome engineering behind it.

I’m skeptical it will catch on however. While it looks great in purpose, most of the places where this would be ideal, urban places with good public transportation are quite a bit more crowded than the video. I see this as being quite similar to the problem that gets in the way of the Segway. The big perk the Boosted Board has is it’s small and easy to carry on public transportation and would be lower cost. However, good luck operating one in NYC.


Gorilla And A Little Girl

Tansy Aspinall Meets The Gorillas

Here’s a fascinating story. This guy was so convinced gorillas are different than other animals. The article even note “[t]here is no record of a gorilla ever killing a human.”

It’s really an amazing video to watch. Also: toddler + gorilla is a video you can’t loose with.


Apple’s A6 CPU It’s Own Design?

Anand Lal Shimpi blew my mind with a report:

The A6 is the first Apple SoC to use its own ARMv7 based processor design. The CPU core(s) aren’t based on a vanilla A9 or A15 design from ARM IP, but instead are something of Apple’s own creation.

I had just assumed Apple licensed the designs as they have in the past. I figured with their interest in silicon designs that they would want more control in the future, but not to this level.

This just shows what sort of cash Apple has in the bank. I can’t imagine anyone other than Samsung possibly going this route, and even Samsung wouldn’t likely do it for just one product of theirs.

Google Security

Chrome Enables Do-Not-Track

Chrome finally added Do-Not-Track (DNT) to Chromium. They are the last major browser to complete implementation and start giving users a choice in terms of their preference to tracking.

DNT isn’t a perfect solution as it has no enforcement. Regardless it’s a step in the right direction and empowers ad networks to respect users privacy preferences, something that in the past was difficult even for those willing to do so. It won’t solve the problem, but it helps and has a low barrier to entry. That’s a good thing.


Guy Hand Feeds A Shark

Hand Feeding A Shark

So here’s someone who finds a shark and decides that trying to hand feed it is a good idea. Lucky to walk away from this. Having the video just makes it better.


iPhone 5 Thoughts

iPhone 5

Some thoughts on the iPhone 5:

  • Design – The black model is a bit of a departure having finally removed the metal ring that’s framed the iPhones of the past. It looks more subtle in white. Otherwise it’s the classic iPhone design, just longer.
  • Dimensions – The larger screen will be nice, I suspect they’ve held the line in dimensions with the 4S to avoid fragmenting the ecosystem too much and upsetting developers (see: Android). Letterboxing makes old apps usable. It’s hardly perfect but a respectable long term move. Unlike many other phones it still seems usable with one hand.
  • Camera – In my opinion one of the bigger features is the improved camera. “The best camera is the one you have on you”. For more and more people it’s their phone. It will never replace an SLR, sheer physics and properties of light limit that. It however is substantially better than previous incarnations. Sapphire Crystal lens is pretty cool too. My lens scratched once before and it cost $30 to swap out the back panel. This means that won’t be likely to happen again. Backside ilumination sensor and large aperture mean better night photos. Something just about every mobile phone stinks at.
  • Panorama – Lots of apps already offer this feature. Apple did mention there’s new “image processing chip”. Curious if some of the algorithms to do panorama’s are accelerated for performance. That would make it a huge win. Also potentially better quality for the time it takes to process.
  • LTE – About time. I suspect they’ve been playing with LTE for ages, but opted against it because of power consumption. Apple held the line with power consumption. Seems like a win.
  • Dual band WiFi – I’m assuming both the iPhone 5 and Kindle HD include 5 GHz because the chipset offers it. While 5 GHz is fast, it’s got pretty limited range, and isn’t really necessary on a mobile device, especially one that can only process so much data at a time. You’re not pushing 300 Mbps to the iPhone 5. Marketing hype, but it’s not a bad thing to have.
  • New Display – Integrated touch is pretty neat. Rather than 2 layers to the screen it’s now one. Given the previous one generation was glued, this doesn’t really make repairs any more expensive. You had to replace the whole thing anyway. Apple mentions it makes things brighter. I’m betting that means they need less power per pixel to light the screen meaning it’s more energy efficient and thus cuts power needs despite the larger size or at least offsets it.
  • Lightning – New cable isn’t terribly surprising. It sounds like an active cable, but it doesn’t seem 100% certain. I’m betting it will be difficult or impossible to see cheap 3rd party cables like we did in the past if that’s the case. The adapter is ugly, and I’ll likely be using those for a while to keep my old stuff working with it. Budget for a few cables and at least one adapter. Eventually we’ll forget about that migration.
  • New earbuds – I’ll hold judgement. The original ear buds were actually decent sound wise, however it was virtually impossible properly position them in your ear to appreciate it. I ditched the Apple ones long ago for something more comfortable.

Overall the announcement met my expectations. I didn’t expect an all new phone, just a ton of revisions. It makes sense Apple didn’t include NFC. If Apple wants to go the payment route I’d expect them to do so via a Pay with Square like geofencing scheme.

Lastly, it appears AT&T will grandfather existing unlimited data customers even with LTE. Not so for Verizon customers.