Looks like Apple is now shipping the Lightning to Micro USB Adapter. Very cool since micro USB is pretty much the standard for mobile devices.
It seems like overseas manufactures are making good progress cloning the chip’s functionality. I give it a few more months before the flood of 3rd party cables that are of equal quality to what Apple is selling. That’s when you should stock up.
The Apple announcements to me were somewhat of a mixed bag.
I love the new iMac design, with the exception of the omitted optical media. A computer that slim with such a great display deserves to be usable as a media center. Otherwise it’s actually a great computer at a good price. If you think about it, not only do you get a pretty good computer, you get a great display in an amazing setup. It looks great.
13″ MacBook Pro
Retina displays on the 15″ MacBook Pro are awesome, however it seems many find the fonts especially to be too small and end up lowering the resolution to make things easier on the eyes and thus defeating the advantage of that great display. I’m not sure that a 13″ MacBook Pro is going to do much better in that regard. The other gripe I have with it over, aside for the lack of optical media which I still find useful is only having Intel HD Graphics 4000 and no discrete graphics. While the Intel graphics aren’t terrible, they aren’t amazing either. Given the number of pixels on that screen, and that price tag, I’d like something a little more powerful driving it.
iPad Mini / iPad 4
The iPad Mini is slightly more expensive than most people thought it would be. It’s however a rather good looking device with some great specs for the price. I think for the slightly higher premium you get a much better product and ecosystem than you do with the competition. Well worth spending just a little more. The only thing I’m not quite sure of is how it would actually feel. The iPad’s size is really part of it’s charm. It doesn’t feel like a phone, it feels like a substantial device. Yet another reason why I’ll need to take a trip to an Apple Store soon and play with one.
The iPad 4 is also quite impressive. Ars believes it’s based on the 32nm process. They also think it’s clocked at 1.5GHz and on the GPU side is still using the PowerVR SGX543 cores just clocked at 500 MHz up from 250 MHz. We don’t know for certain, but this sounds very plausible and I’m inclined to agree.
Saturday Night Live had a great little sketch on the iPhone 5. They hyphenated CNet, but we’ll let that one slide.
Back on announcement day for the iPhone 5, I said it would be difficult to impossible for 3rd parties to make Lighting cables because it was likely an active cable. Sadly I was right. From AppleInsider:
Peter from Double Helix Cables took apart the Lightning connector and found inside what appear to be authentication chips. He found a chip located between the V+ contact of the USB and the power pin on the new Lightning plug.
That’s pin 1, the far right pin of a Type A, the far left side of a mini/micro, and the top left of a Type B USB plug. That provides 5V DC. Depending on the nature of how the chip works it could be difficult for cables to provide even power, much less transfer data to the device. Pin 1 and 4 provide power/ground, 2,3 are data.
The big upside here is the market is huge for the first cheap silicon that can emulate this chip at least enough for power, preferably data. Assuming that happens we’ll see a plethora of 3rd party cables. Until then, we’ll see nothing. Of course that could be a huge lawsuit right there.
Doing a little network test and ran a traceroute to apple.com:
$ sudo tcptraceroute apple.com
Selected device ppp0, address 172.17.152.110, port 55167 for outgoing packets
Tracing the path to apple.com (184.108.40.206) on TCP port 80 (http), 30 hops max
1 xxx.xx.xx.xx 12.847 ms 12.899 ms 13.736 ms
2 xxx.xx.xx.xx 14.734 ms 14.966 ms 16.143 ms
3 10.255.12.45 14.335 ms 14.712 ms 13.902 ms
4 10.253.44.242 14.992 ms 14.204 ms 13.693 ms
5 velocity-engine.com (220.127.116.11) [open] 14.639 ms 17.666 ms 15.295 ms
Check out that last host. Velocity Engine was part of the marketing for AltiVec in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Curious that Apple is re-purposing that.
Steve Jobs in interview for PBS’ ‘One Last Thing‘ documentary, 1994 (via Wikipedia):
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
I’ve always admired how he pushed the limits. I can’t help but read “… embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it” and think of the “Crazy Ones” ad campaign’s: “because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”.
He was a crazy one.
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.
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.
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.
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.