Tuesday, 13 September 2016

iOS 10 Emoji Changelog →

iOS 10 which is set to launch today comes with a bunch of great new features. Probably one of the most visible ones will be the new iOS 10 emoji.

This release (iOS 10.0.1) contains a total of 37 new emojis, or 632 emoji updates in total. This latter figure includes completely new characters as well as redesigned images for existing emojis.

There are 1,767 unique emoji images in iOS 10, which correspond to 1,922 emoji characters.

My favourite ones are the family emoji and combinations as well as the rainbow flag. You can see the family ones in the featured image and the rainbow ones below.

iOS 10 emoji - Rainbow FlagAs far as the redesign goes, some emojis have become glossier, while others, like the devil emoji have lost the glow. It took me a bit to get used to them, but now I completely forgot how they look like.

Combined with the new emojification feature introduced in iOS 10, I suspect these will make a lot of people really excited for all the weird reasons.

 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The ultimate Apple I/O death chart →

[…] You can see that all of the heralded “Apple kills X” products like the iMac really just set the stage for Apple to slowly transition various tech out of its lineup. So while the iMac killed ADB, SCSI, and the floppy drive, Apple still shipped all those things in various other (mostly pro) machines for another couple years, because it had lots of customers who wanted those things. That gave the market for USB devices time to mature — creating temptation for those same pro customers to upgrade to newer machines that could take better advantage of all those USB devices.

Nilay Patel (author of the controversial “Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid“) came up with a chart of I/O things Apple obsoleted over time. The “death chart” is quite interesting. As he observes, most I/O standards last about 15 years. If we put this together with other things Apple “killed” over time (like Flash*, which is worth mentioning), it should offer a perspective of the company’s vision of the future.

Moreover John Gruber mentions the Ethernet port is missing from that chart. Both Macbook Air & Pros lacked Ethernet for awhile now. Macbook laptops’ battery life is one of the best I’ve seen in laptops, so having a truly portable, cable-free laptop that can last for a whole day is a great achievement.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the trend isn’t just toward eliminating ports on devices — it’s about reducing the number of cables you use.

John Gruber

Read Gruber’s comments here: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2016/06/29/patel-io-death-chart

However, I do agree that if you replace something, you need to come up with something better. Time will tell if killing the headphone jack outgrew its convenience and ubiquity. Let’s give it a few years, shall we? After all, they haven’t killed it yet.

*Steve Jobs dismissed Adobe’s solution in his piece “Thoughts on Flash”. He called out Flash for being a major battery drainer on mobile devices, as well as its reliability and security. As it turns out, he was right. It’s 2016 and everyone hates Flash. If we think of laptops as mobile devices too, it’s easy to see why with macOS Sierra, Flash will be disabled by default.

Monday, 20 June 2016

iOS 10 Photos App

Behind Apple’s Advanced Computer Vision for Photos App→

Photos app recognises and distinguishes the following 7 facial expressions. Expressions are distinguished after forming a “faceprint”. These distinction are used for searching. They are also rated and indexed for generation Memories and montages.

Greedy, Disgust, Neutral, Scream, Smiling, Surprise, Suspicious

Photos app will generate Moments that falls within the following 33 categories. Default name of the moment will be automatically generated using metadata from the photos and tags from analysis of photos.

Memories from areas of interest, Best of past memories, Memories that break out of routine, Celebration in history, Contextual memories, Crowd, Day in history, Holiday in history, Location of interest, Nearby, New contextual memories, New memories, Person’s Birthdays, Person’s memories, Recent events (calendar, crowd, holiday, people, person, social, trip, weekend), Region of interest, Social group memories, Sometime memories, Special memories, Favourited, Trips, Week in history, Weekend, Year summary, Last week, Last Weekend

Kay Yin

I’m impressed to see what the Photos app is able to generate and distinguish, only computing data locally. The Photos app is also pretty accurate when recognising faces and objects. This compliments nicely the memories it is able to put together in nicely theme-matched videos. In addition to the above, Kay also provides a complete list of things the Photos app can be queried for as well as the categories to which they belong to. This list will continue to grow over time and it could easily be part of OTA updates. As Craig Federighi said in John Gruber’s The Talk Show (53:40)

There is this idea that if you don’t have the data, how would you ever learn? As it turns out, if you wanna get pictures of mountains, you don’t need to get it out of people’s personal photo libraries.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

First impressions of the new Apple TV

First impressions of the new Apple TV 4 after I played with it for 2 hours

I really wanted to give the new Apple TV 4 a test drive and for those who didn’t have a chance to play with it, here are my impressions after fanboying about it for awhile and spending two hours in an Apple Store playing with it.

Overall

The new Apple TV 4 is a great piece of hardware, a lot smaller than I imagined it to be, although I know it’s thicker than the older generations. Siri is great and really capable, except when it’s not. The true potential on this new device is the Siri universal search and the apps and I can see how this can and will become a great asset to go along your TV.

Siri

I put Siri through a lot of stress tests. I asked her many many questions and I came to the conclusion that movies and TV shows/series wise, it does about 70% of what you’d expect it to do. But it still isn’t what you want it to be. Examples: I asked Siri to Show me movies with Kristen Bell. It was successful. First movie that showed up was Frozen. Really loved Frozen, but there were a few animated movies in that list so I decided to get rid of them. Not the animated ones – well here is were basic logic falls apart. Instead of filtering and showing me just live action movies, Siri showed me JUST the animated ones. There were also multiple instances when I said Just the action movies or Just the highest rated ones and she understood Does the action movies and Does the highest rated but I will blame my accent and the loud noise in the store for that. Another example is while looking at a TV Series card like Mr. Robot I asked Who stars in this. To my surprise it came with with I don’t have this information right now, although if I swiped down a bit I could see the cast. Or asking for Sci-Fi TV series (with Sense8 or Orphan Black in mind) got me the same I don’t have this information right now. Specifically asking for Sense8 got me I want to watch sensate which again failed so I had to pause between sense and specifically say eight for it to catch it and show me Sense8. Asking for Movies with Meryl Streep worked fine, but I wanted to see the highest rated ones. That again got me I don’t have ratings for these movies or something similar along the lines.

On another hand Siri is pretty good at getting you at the right episode with a particular actor. The Apple employee demoed a few like Show me the Friends episode with Danny DeVito and it worked like magic. Or Show me BBC Sherlock which is on Netflix and it opened the Netflix app at the right screen for me to start playing it. It is also pretty good when you ask for movies in which star multiple actors Show me movies with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway correctly showed me The Devil Wears Prada.

So great potential, really enjoyed trying lots of things with Siri, but still lacks context at times. Also wish it was able to perform searches on Apple Music. But that’s coming. The Apple employee also mentioned that they will also introduce a feature to ask “Who is that?” while a movie is playing and Siri will be able to tell who the actor is, but as all Apple fanboys know this is not confirmed or even not even a rumor and we might not see this until maybe next year with tvOS 2. It might also have been to convince some people to buy it, or just his personal opinion. I wouldn’t take this as a certain thing that will happen.

Apps

Well, there were just 16 apps or so to play with and I tried them all. I couldn’t download more from the App Store as it said it was a Demo Unit. I love to cook and travel so the AirBnB and Kitchen Stories look amazing on TV. Craftsy looked like a nice thing to do in your weekend as a family activity and for those who are nerds and geeks (maybe like me) and love comic books Madefire is absolutely stunning. Reading comic books like that is a fantastic experience. Beat Sports didn’t quite catch me, but this guy says it’s great fun.

But what really stressed me out was how unintuitive was to input my email and password on the Netflix app by just using the remote. Awful! I really hope they will update the remote app to support typing in using the iPhone because I can see how this can cause a lot of stress.

Another interesting point is I am surprised how many apps are already available for the Apple TV, given it’s only been a week since they launched it. But the frustration comes when you’re searching for them or when you want to discover new apps. The App Store looks nice, but it lacks categories, and searching for apps that you don’t know exists is actually frustrating. I know this has been mentioned before though. Maybe with more apps coming up they will introduce categories too and hopefully Siri App Store search.

First impressions of the new Apple TV's user interface
User interface is stunning, but can be improved | Source: apple.com

UI

I really love the UI, and the nice effect you get when you hover over app icons. It’s not just a nice touch, it’s mesmerizing and fun. It’s parallax and it shines and it’s very satisfactory to feel it at your fingertips. The screens for showing movies info and the cards are also very nice. Transitions are nice too.

But sometimes you wish it supported 4K and the movies info cards were better. For instance I was looking at movies with Meryl Streep and decided to check out the August: Osage County and the Sandra Bullock in the back was so pixelated. I was standing fairly close to the TV, but it wasn’t that, it just looked like a very compressed JPG image. And I think that’s a bit unacceptable. The App Store had app cards but unlike on the iPhone and iPad some rows you could see you can swipe to see more, but some didn’t. So I had to guess I am able to swipe on that row to get more of the same Apps. So a bit of inconsistency there.

Overall, really liked the UI though.

Siri remote and extra controllers

Siri Remote
The Siri Remote is nice, but not the only thing you need | Source: apple.com

The small Siri Remote is great, small and comfortable, but it takes a little getting used to it and I was a bit afraid it would slip. Shadowmatic is a lots of fun, once you get how to play with it and rotate things using the edge of the remote. I think most of you know, but maximum number of devices you can pair with the Apple TV is 3. First is the Siri Remote, and 2 extra devices, either iPhones or any MFi controller. Playing Asphalt 8 was pretty nice with the remote, but the when I tried Breakneck I felt the remote was either not calibrated or the app not properly optimized. WAY TOO sensitive when it shouldn’t be and a lot of late input when it should have been quick. I hope it’s not the sensors in the remote though.

Once you get used to the fact that the MENU button also acts as back button and the TV button is like a Home Button on the iPhone, but for the TV, the whole interface is quite easy.

Personally I think it’s a very nice toy to play with, but given that I barely watch TV and I only have a Netflix subscription, I wouldn’t get it for myself, at least not at its current state, and not for £129/$169. Perhaps with time, the apps will increase its worthiness as a casual games console. Also I just wanted to point out that I am by no means an expert or a reviewer whatsoever, just an Apple fanboy with great expectations and a pretty tech savvy person. Let me know what you think.