The new iPhone 12 promises plenty of welcome upgrades, from 5G connectivity and a faster A14 Bionic processor to longer battery life. But there’s one feature I want Apple to steal from the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Space Zoom.
Before you write this off as a gimmick, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s Space Zoom really impressed me when I was testing Samsung’s new phone. The telephoto lens has an optical zoom rating of 5x and it boasts a digital zoom all the way up to 50x.
By comparison, the current iPhone 11 Pro has a 2x telephoto zoom and 10x digital zoom, and rumor has it that the iPhone 12 Pro will max out with a 3x optical zoom. There haven’t been any credible rumors about the digital zoom for this flagship.
The power of 50x zoom. Its kind of scary. #GalaxyNote20Ultra pic.twitter.com/LpGPCuzyzGAugust 18, 2020
If these leaks are true, Samsung should have a big advantage on the camera front. Just look how closely I could zoom in on the above sign in front of a fish market from across a highway. It’s so good that it’s scary.
Snagging the 50x zoom shot proved tricky, as this zoom level introduced a fair amount of camera shake. But the 10x and 20x zoom shots delivered remarkable results.
Here’s another example of Space Zoom in action, as you’ll see in the gallery below. I zoomed in on a tree from the complete opposite side of the yard. As I zoomed in, I could make out the details in the bark as well as the hanging flower baskets, wind chime and bird house.
Since the iPhone 11 Pro Max maxes out at 10x digital zoom, I put it up against the hybrid zoom on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra at a nearby park.
As you can see in this photo of a stream, Samsung’s camera delivers a much sharper image. The iPhone’s result is fuzzier, which is to be expected. The Note 20’s image isn’t perfect, as it blows out some of the highlights illuminated by the sun, but overall it’s clearly the superior shot.
The process of zooming on the Note 20 Ultra is pretty smooth as well. You just press the zoom button and it jumps you to 5x, and from there you can choose 10x, 20x or 50x. Or you can dial it back to 4x.
In July we heard that Apple could be lining up periscope zoom lens suppliers — for 2022. So that means we shouldn’t expect a powerful optical zoom for the iPhone 12 and maybe not even the iPhone 13. I hope these reports prove untrue, because now that I’ve tried the Space Zoom on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra I don’t want to give it up.
Spotify, Epic, Tile, Match, and more are rallying developers against Apple’s App Store policies – The Verge
Several of Apple’s biggest critics — including Epic Games, Spotify, Basecamp, Match Group, Tile, Blix, and Deezer — have banded together to create the Coalition for App Fairness, a new group aiming to “create a level playing field for app businesses and give people freedom of choice on their devices.”
While most of the founding members have individually fought or are fighting with Apple over its App Store policies, the Coalition for App Fairness marks a more coordinated effort for developers to formally protest Apple’s rules. The goal is to also provide a central organization for developers to join, especially those who may not have the clout or the resources to take on Apple alone.
The Coalition says that it welcomes “companies of any size, in any industry who are committed to protecting consumer choice, fostering competition, and creating a level playing field for all app and game developers globally.”
“We are joining the Coalition for App Fairness to defend the fundamental rights of creators to build apps and to do business directly with their customers,” said Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Epic Games in a statement announcing the news.
The Coalition for App Fairness cites three main issues of contention: Apple’s 30 percent cut of any payments sold through the store, the lack of any other competitive options for app distribution on iOS, and a claim that Apple uses its control over iOS to favor its own services.
None of these are new accusations. Spotify, for example, has formally filed an antitrust suit in the European Union against Apple over many of those issues. Basecamp clashed with Apple earlier this year, claiming that Apple was refusing to approve future updates for its Hey email app unless it sold subscriptions through Apple’s store. Blix claimed that Apple stole its ideas for anonymous email sign-in and then booted it from the App Store. (The company has previously tried to rally other developers to join its fight.) Tile testified in Congress that Apple used its platform to undercut its product’s usability on iOS. And of course, Epic has launched a full-fledged war over Apple’s 30 percent cut that’s resulted in the biggest game in the world being removed from the App Store entirely.
The Coalition for App Fairness has a proposed code of conduct that it’s asking Apple — and other platform owners — to adopt. They goals are ambitious, and include requests that developers not be forced to use an exclusive app store, that all developers should have equal access to the same technical information as the platform owner, and that developers should not be forced to pay “unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory fees or revenue shares,” in order to be listed on an app store.
The Coalition for App Fairness is hoping to gain influence over Apple through a united developer front. But even if other developers flock to join, Apple still holds all the cards; while Spotify, Match, Basecamp, and the rest are protesting Apple’s rules, at the end of the day, they’re still putting their apps in the App Store and paying Apple’s fees. As long as that’s the case, short of legal intervention, it’s hard to see Apple acquiescing to any of these demands — no matter how many developers complain.
iOS 14: Apple Is Building A Fundamentally Different Future For Software – Forbes
iOS 14 is not neutral.
It will privilege certain kinds of apps, de-prioritize others, and therefore impact what kinds of apps will be successful and which are more likely to fail. At least, according to the former head of Google’s iOS app.
If you’ve seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix, the iOS 14 imperative will ring a bell. Because in its new mobile operating system Apple is building a fundamentally different future for software that will result in attention-focused developers failing, and service-oriented developers winning, Nick Hobbs told me on a recent episode of the TechFirst podcast.
“When you look at iOS 14, you can see that Apple is not neutral on the question of where technology goes in the future,” Hobbs says. “Littered throughout the OS are lots of changes that make it very clear they don’t want their products and platforms to be tools for attention merchants … I think the iOS 14 update is in both ways big and small, a really strong statement that Apple wants to be building a future of services and not one of this monetization of attention.”
Watch the full interview with Nick Hobbs:
To dive into how iOS 14 changes the paradigm of what mobile computing means, we have to look at how apps worked in previous versions.
For more than a decade, mobile app publishers have fought hard to get their apps installed. Getting installed meant they now owned a small amount of real estate on the “three-foot device,” the most personal computer ever invented that is rarely more than three feet from your body. From that privileged position, they could badger you for attention: throwing push notifications to your phone, adding little red numbers to the top corner of their app icons to let you know that you were missing something. The continual goal: get you to open the app, spend some time, engage with some content, and (maybe) watch a few ads.
iOS 14 thinks different.
For starters, home screen real estate is much harder to achieve.
“By default, all the apps get put in what they call the ‘Library,’ which is kind of a side space, and you can search for them,” Hobbs says. “You can still find them, you can go into the library and drag them onto your home screen. But as a developer, you have to earn that spot on the home screen.”
Even more important, however, is that Apple has created and prioritized widgets.
Widgets provide snippets of an app’s functionality and information without the bother of actually launching the app. They have the opportunity to vastly increase how much you use an app, or vastly decrease that time.
Listen to the interview behind this story on the TechFirst podcast:
One example is Photos, an Apple app I rarely used to use. If I needed a picture, it was usually a recent one, and generally available from the Camera app without the bother of going into the full Photos experience. Now, I’m using the Photos widget, which is showing top featured photos from more than a decade’s worth of pictures. That’s immediately useful and interesting right on the home screen, and it sometimes impels me to tap into the full Photos app and see more.
Another example is Activity, another Apple app that displays how much exercise you’ve gotten in a day. The widget shows everything I need on the home screen; I don’t need to tap into the app to see more.
Hobbs says that’s going to be true for many more apps, including ones that are currently big winners.
“People who provide real utility every single day, like those are the winners in iOS 14,” Hobbs says. “And the people who are trying to distract you and then monetize that attention by selling it to somebody else, that’s not a future that Apple wants to build.”
It doesn’t take a genius to understand just who an operating system that de-prioritizes attention merchants might be aimed at. But it’s also not like iOS 14 is just aimed at Apple’s frenemies and coopetitors like Facebook. Google, for instance, is another frenemy and coopetitor, but widgets are likely to be positive for Google. I almost never touch the standalone Google app currently, but with the Google widget on my home screen, traditional Google text search, Google Lens for visual search, and voice search are all just one tap away.
And that will prioritize subscription services, Hobbs thinks. Because subscription services don’t need to clamor for your attention every second. They don’t need to accumulate page views or time in app so they can show you more and more ads. They just need to provide value, no matter how or where they deliver it to you.
In other words, widgets are an attempt to disrupt a certain type of mobile software.
“That maps very well to subscription-oriented businesses,” Hobbs says, talking about widgets. “What it works very poorly for are things like freemium services, where like the idea is we kind of lure you in because it’s very easy to use, it’s easy to get started, and then over time you use it more and more. You like it more and more, and then eventually, because it’s this freemium service, we’ll start charging you by in-app purchases or something like that.”
Apple invented and launched the first modern mobile App Store eight years ago, and when it launched, apps were largely paid. There were some free apps — weather, news — but it was common for apps to be $0.99, or $1.99. Fast-forward a few years into the evolution of apps, and the scales tilted heavily towards free.
Two kinds of free, actually.
One kind of free was the attention merchants of surveillance capitalism, if you will. The Facebooks and Reddits and YouTubes of the world. The other kind of free was freemium, like the vast majority of highly successful games: free to install, free to play, but costly if you want to get good and you want to get good fast. As Hobbs puts it … the kinds of games that you pay for out of frustration.
The reality is that seemingly small changes to the iPhone operating system can have major impacts.
Hobbs was the product manager for Google’s iPhone app during the shift from iOS 6 to iOS 7. And that Apple software change had a major financial impact on Google.
“The most drastic impact that we ever saw was actually just a change in the user experience where they redesigned Safari,” he says. “At Google, we just basically took it on faith that more searches is better, right? Like, people searching more, that is a happy user is the person … and when they redesigned iOS 7 and introduced a new look for Safari, traffic fell off a cliff … it looked like a Great Depression graph.”
So it’s going to be interesting to see what iOS 14 does to the future of apps: which apps win, and which apps fail.
All apps still have the opportunity to compete and to convince people that they are worth their time, but Apple’s changes will benefit different types of apps unequally.
For Hobbs, moving apps off the home screen and adding widgets — plus the myriad new privacy-focused changes to iOS 14 — means fewer ad-monetized services.
“I think by putting in this layer … that says we’re not going to let you directly plug into a user’s brain … we’re not going to let you put the app icon on the home screen and badge it red and get them to come in.”
That’s good for Hobb’s new startup, which is subscription based, and he says he thinks it’s also good for him personally, as an iPhone owner. As a CEO, he’s trying hard to ensure his company succeeds. As a human being, he’s trying hard to live his life without being unduly influenced by what’s blowing up on social media, by the political outrage machines surrounding us in digital environments, and by the general negativity and stress that can come from consuming too much digital content.
“It’s hard for me on my own to fight every engineer at Facebook, right? There are lots of them, they’re very smart people, they’re very good at what they do, and a lot of them, their job is to get me to spend more time on Facebook,” Hobbs told me.
“And the only way that … you have a fighting chance in winning that battle is if more software companies try to help you live the life that you want to live. And I think Apple is one of those companies that’s trying to say: ‘we know that there is more to life than scrolling through Facebook.’”
New Apple mobile operating systems tend to get adopted very quickly. It will be interesting to see if Hobbs’ predictions are true and if, indeed, Apple’s new operating system will save us from ourselves.
Or save us from Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and TikTok.
It is worth mentioning, of course, that Apple doesn’t make money on services that monetize via advertising, like Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. Apple does make money on subscription services. At least, when they obey the App Store guidelines and use Apple’s payment services.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X 1TB expandable storage priced at $219.99 – The Verge
Microsoft’s first 1TB expandable storage drive for the Xbox Series X / S will be priced at $219.99. Best Buy has started taking preorders for the accessory, revealing a final price that had leaked recently. These expandable storage cards slot into the rear of both the Xbox Series X / S to match the internal SSD speed and provide 1TB of extra storage.
Microsoft’s expandable storage solution is proprietary, and only Seagate has been announced as a manufacturer so far. Microsoft tells me more suppliers and additional sizes will be available in the future, but the $219.99 price will still surprise many potential next-gen Xbox owners.
The Xbox Series X ships with 1TB of SSD storage, and the Xbox Series S just 512GB of storage. Microsoft’s pricing means the $299 Xbox Series S jumps to nearly $520 if you want to add the additional storage and bring it up to 1.5TB overall. That may make the larger Series X more appealing to those who need the storage, particularly as games will start to require it once they’re enhanced for the Xbox Series X / S. Games for the Xbox Series S can be 30 percent smaller than the Series X, which will certainly help with storage options.
An alternative to this expandable storage is simply using any USB drive to store games when you don’t need to play them. If they’re not enhanced for Xbox Series X / S then you’ll even be able to run them direct from USB storage, or you can simply copy them and use drives as cheaper cold storage.
It’s difficult to judge the price of these expandable storage cards, simply because there aren’t enough comparable PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs out there. Sony has chosen to allow players to slot their own drives into the PS5, but these drives will need to meet the speed requirements of the internal SSD. Those speed requirements mean that PS5 owners will need the very best PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives that are starting to make their way into PCs. Samsung announced its 980 Pro earlier this week, which looks like it might be an ideal candidate for the PS5 due to its fast read and write speeds. Samsung’s 1TB option for the 980 Pro is priced at $229.99, but Sony has not yet revealed which drives will be compatible with the PS5.
The benefits of Sony’s more open approach is that pricing on compatible PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs will inevitably drop over time due to competition and lower manufacturing costs. Assuming Sony certifies most high-end drives, there should be a lot of options. Microsoft will need more manufacturers producing its expandable Xbox Series X / S storage cards for competition to take place and prices to be lowered over time. It’s going to be a waiting game to see exactly how Sony and Microsoft handle expandable storage options in the coming months, but it’s clear from Microsoft’s pricing that it’s not going to be cheap for early adopters.
Spotify, Epic, Tile, Match, and more are rallying developers against Apple’s App Store policies – The Verge
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