3D Touch app switcher will return

Craig Federighi, replying to a mail about the removal of the 3D Touch app switcher gesture:

We regretfully had to temporarily drop support for this gesture due to a technical constraint. We will be bringing it back in an upcoming iOS 11.x update.

Thanks (and sorry for the inconvenience)!

My only real complaint with iOS 11 was this. Looking forward to its return.


September event

Despite the fact that we knew the details of the majority of products that Apple were planning to announce, there is still a lot to talk about from Apple’s September event.

Apple Watch enthusiasts finally got one of their most requested features - cellular data, Apple TV enthusiasts (or whatever subset of them have a TV capable of driving 4K) got a nice - albeit minor - upgrade, and general Apple enthusiasts got to see the shiny new headquarters ‘Apple Park’.

For me, I was most interested in seeing the new iPhones.

iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X and iPhone 8
iPhone 8 Plus, X and 8

iPhone 8/8 Plus

Confusingly named ‘8’ and ‘8 Plus’ don’t let that fool you into thinking these are anything other than an iPhone ‘7s’ and ‘7s Plus’.

For the first time since the iPhone 4S, the glass back returns and I’m glad it has. Aesthetics aside, this apparantly enables the 8’s to support wireless charging, which is something that I think will be great once it becomes widely supported in restaurants, airports and cars etc.

It’s great to see that the 8’s have got the same chip as the flagship iPhone X, the A11 ‘Bionic’, promising speeds up to 70% faster than the previous generation. The camera has also got it’s usual bump, and True Tone has been added to the display.

The 8’s are both solid updates, even if they’re not the most exciting. Both phones are a great update for owners of iPhone 6s or older..and those who like to keep their phone prices below the thousand mark..

iPhone X

The iPhone X, pronounced ‘ten’ 1, is Apple’s first attempt at a bezel-less phone. There’s no denying that it looks great. Immediately all other iPhones look old in comparison.

The notch at the top is what most people seem to be focusing on. For whatever reason, Apple decided to leave the notch at the top to accommodate the camera and sensors. They could have taken the option that Samsung took with the Galaxy S8 by having a thin bezel at the top and bottom of the phone where they can put any hardware they need without impacting on the screen. Until I use the phone in hand I can’t really criticize this design, but for now it does seem like a fairly big compromise for the bezel-less design. Unsurprisingly, the home button is also gone.

Just like the 8’s, the X has gotten the usual hardware updates like CPU bump, camera bump and notably an OLED display which should look great on a phone with a screen this big.

The biggest change from a users perspective is probably the removal of Touch ID for Face ID, which again, will need to be tested in person before being judged. I love Touch ID on my 6s and it works quickly an flawlessly every time, so if Face ID doesn’t deliver the same user experience then it’s hard to see any benefit to it.

I’m a bit torn on my opinion of this phone. I like the look of it, and I know that bezel-less is the way forward, but there’s no denying that this phone is a bit of a risk buy for most people. Ridiculous price aside 2, this is a first attempt from Apple with this design so it’s almost guaranteed to have problems. I wouldn’t recommend getting this phone unless you have a lot of money to spare, and are willing to accept compromises for a peek at the ‘future’.

  1. An awful name in my opinion. What will next year’s iPhones be called?! 

  2. There’s almost no point in discussing high prices when it comes to Apple products at this point. This is a premium phone at an extremely premium price. 


Leaks

There hasn’t been an Apple event with leaks this bad for as long as I can remember.

The latest leaks published on 9to5mac have all but confirmed the look, names and functionality of the new iPhones which are due to be announced this coming Tuesday at Apple Park.

What’s most worrying from Apple’s perspective is that the majority of these leaks have come from Apple themselves, with their software being dug into by some talented people. 1

You have to admire the perseverance and skill of these guys in how they can dig into the software and paint a picture of what Apple are working on. But on the other hand it’s a shame to have all the excitement taken from the event.

Ultimately, it’s up to Apple to ensure that any pre-release software is as bulletproof as possible, which is easier said than done when you have this level of interest.

  1. Steve Troughton-Smith’s Twitter is basically the Bible on leaks. 


iOS 11 release date

Historical iOS GM release dates:

iOS Version Release Date Day of the week
iPhone OS 1 29th June 2007 Friday
iPhone OS 2 11th July 2008 Friday
iPhone OS 3 17th June 2009 Wednesday
iOS 4 21th June 2010 Monday
iOS 5 12th October 2011 Wednesday
iOS 6 19th September 2012 Wednesday
iOS 7 18th September 2013 Wednesday
iOS 8 17th September 2014 Wednesday
iOS 9 16th September 2015 Wednesday
iOS 10 13th September 2016 Tuesday

From iOS 5 onwards there is an obvious trend - midweek release in the third week of September. Based on that, and the move to Tuesday last year, I will go with Tuesday, September 12th as the release date for iOS 11.

Update - I was a week off. iOS 11 releases to the public on the 19th September.


Apple discontinues the iPod nano and iPod shuffle

Apple silently discontinued the iPod nano and iPod shuffle a few days ago. Although not entirely surprising 1 , it’s still worth noting the significance of this.

The nano was, and still is an excellent device. I still have a first generation one at home which despite being over eleven years old, wouldn’t look out of place today.

The shuffle is interesting in that it was the only music player in Apple’s lineup that was truly great for exercise. Until the Apple Watch fulfills a better role in health and fitness, there really isn’t any device now in the lineup that is portable and light enough to be comfortable to wear while running or in the gym.

The iPod touch hangs on as the last link to the iPod brand - but it’s unlikely to see any more significant updates as it slowly fades into history.

For all the nostalgia and admiration for these devices however, there is no getting away from the fact that the world has long moved on from the notion of syncing music to a device using a computer, and that is really what killed these iPods.

  1. The nano has not seen an update since 2012, while the last update to the shuffle dates back to 2010. 


How Apple created Nintendo’s best console

Dan Masters:

Apple has always had a rocky relationship with gaming. They have historically paid little attention to gaming — most notably on the Mac. However, post-iPhone they demonstrated an apparent newfound commitment to games by seemingly devoting significant resources and attention to it each year.

However, this would turn out to be a mirage, as they iterated very little and hardly encouraged developer adoption — instead taking the “Build it and they’ll come because we’re Apple” approach.

Gaming is an area that Apple have gone backwards in on iOS. In the early days of the App Store, games were more ambitious and increasingly got more in line with console games. Compare that to today, where casual fremium games dominate the top grossing charts, and it’s clear to see that the App Store hasn’t become the thriving gaming platform to rival consoles that would be suggested all those years back.

Game Center is something that I was excited about when it was first released. The idea of having a rival to PSN and Xbox Live was on iOS showed that Apple were serious about iOS as a gaming platform. Save for one update, Game Center never got any real attention from Apple and it has slowly but surely slid into obscurity.

iPhones and iPads have become real computing powerhouses. Imagine what a gaming company could produce if they could justify spending big money on a project for mobile platforms. I hope that the addition of ARKit which was announced at WWDC, points towards a revival of gaming on iOS.


A favorite hack

‘Underscore’ David Smith:

First, the back story. During the introduction of iOS 7 one of the random side effects of the wide reaching changes to the iOS user interface was that app icon badges started to get truncated whenever they got above 4 digits long.

At first, I thought I’d have to remove the feature in iOS 7, until one fateful afternoon (while taking a shower, of course) I had the insight that I might be able to work around this. My realization was that the numbers were getting truncated based on their displayed width and not their digit count. Thus a number with a lot of 1s in it would not get truncated because the 1s are so thin, whereas a number with a lot of 4s in it would be truncated because they render much wider.

Cool little hack. There’s something comforting about knowing that even the most experienced developers sometimes use hacks like these to get their work done!


From Jekyll To Ghost

Roger Stringer, on his motivation for switching his blog from Jekyll to Ghost:

This blog tends to move engines every few years, WordPress, Second Crack, back to WordPress, over to Camel, then Jekyll and now nearly two years later, Ghost.

Ghost fits my current writing style, it’s markdown, and I can open it in any browser (or the desktop app) and just write, then publish.

With Jekyll, I’d either write on GitHub, or use an app, or use write locally and then push to GitHub, which was fine, but not as smooth as I liked it.

After using Ghost to write heavily with Coded Geekery (my other slightly more opinionated blog), I just like that flow better, so I made the switch.

I always find it interesting to see other bloggers opinions on the technology that runs their sites. When I first created this site, I was actually following a tutorial from Roger on how to set up a blog powered by Camel and hosted on Heroku. Fast forward almost two years, and we have both moved on from Camel to Jekyll, and now Roger has changed once again to Ghost.

For me, Jekyll and GitHub Pages still fulfill any needs I have for this site, and I hope they will for a long time to come, but the beauty of self publishing is that the content is yours. The freedom of being able to move to any other technologies is great, and something that is sorely missed if you look to the like of Medium, Twitter, Facebook, or most other publishing platforms.



App sizes

There have been a few articles floating around recently highlighting the increases in app size over the past few years. 1 In another article around the issue, Matt Birchler done some investigating by looking into the app sizes as displayed in the App Store vs. the actual download performed during an update:

There is quite a range between an app’s advertised size and how much data is actually transferred when you update said app. Twitter had the largest discrepancy, showing 122 MB as the app size, but downloading less than 1 MB to perform its update. Clearly the update Twitter rolled out had more impact from delta updates to thin out their update size, and the same is true of Target and Nokia Health Mate, both of which are around 100 MB total, but each downloaded just over 1 MB for their updates.

He further singles out Facebook as a culprit for large updates:

The Facebook app is advertised as being a whopping 251 MB app, and I don’t know what the update size is, but it was over 100 MB. Has Facebook changed so much in the past 3 days since an update that it needed to replace over 40% of its code?

Facebook bring updates to their app at least once every fortnight, complete with highly informative release notes:

Facebook app release notes
Would it kill Facebook to put a bit more effort into these?

If apps continue this trend of eating memory, then the long awaited increase in base storage size on our devices will soon hit a new wall. Not to mention the data usage behind all of this. If you don’t have an unlimited internet plan then forget it - updating your apps these days means you very likely have a few hundred megabytes to download, and it’s the most popular social networks that are the biggest culprits.

Whatever the solution to this problem is, be it delta updates, app thinning or something even more clever, I hope it’s on the horizon sooner rather than later.

  1. Most notably, these two on Daring Fireball, and this one from Sensor Tower.