A week with iPhone 6s

This post originally appeared on NotedTech on 2 October 2015.

After a week with the iPhone 6s, I’ve been able to finally put together my early thoughts on it. There are plenty of good reviews out there, so I won’t go into every tech detail. 

First, my typical buying habits: I’ll get a new iPhone every two years. My first iPhone was the 3GS, and I’ve been on the ’S-cycle’ ever since. The new design has been perfected, and the internal upgrades are typically more significant than with the new designs. Thus, my previous iPhone was the 5s. 

Compared to what I had before, this new iPhone definitely is a wonderful device. There are a few areas that I especially appreciate.

First, the FaceTime camera. Living two time zones away from family, FaceTime has become a regular thing for us. The front facing FaceTime camera on the iPhone 6s is now a 5MP sensor. Both photos and videos are much higher quality than in previous iOS devices. Yes, it makes for great selfies. But it also makes for better video chats, too.

The iSight camera on the back is very important to many people. For me, with a ten-month old son, photos are something that happen all day, every day. Again, these are photos that get sent back to family. The jump to a 12MP camera, along with the usual ‘Apple refinements’, means we always have cute pictures for the grandparents. 

Of course, the iPhone 6s also includes support for taking Live Photos. Shortly after coming home with our new iPhones, I tested this out with our son. The first Live Photo that I took is now my favorite Live Photo (thus far) and has been my wallpaper several times this past week. Being able to touch my screen and see him move and smile is one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had with my new iPhone. This feature also is a big hit with our family (at least the family members who have updated to iOS 9). Instead of just seeing a still photo of their grandson, they can almost see the memory as we did. This alone is probably the best feature to come to the iPhone 6s.

One other new feature to the 6s is 3D Touch. Some have, incorrectly in my opinion, compared it to right click on the desktop. Others, typically Android users, like to say it’s analogous to a long press. Both actions give the impression of a junk folder of actions. When you right click on something on a computer, you don’t expect to do things quicker than a click or two, you expect to find additional options. And in iOS, that’s still true of things like a long press. 3D Touch, however, makes things simpler. For me, previewing links while in Mail, News, or Messages is wonderful for productivity. You can get a quick idea of what is there without needing to load the entire link, email, or article. If I want to head into something, I can press harder and pop into it. Otherwise, I can just peek my way through things. And unlike a long press, I don’t need to wait for this to kick in. I can just do a hard press and instantly get a peek into something. I think this interaction has a lot to offer iOS, especially as more apps take advantage of it. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see this hit iPad models next year.

All in all, I’m very happy with the iPhone 6s. Coming from the 5s, I’m still adjusting to the size difference. Most people probably got that out of their system last year with the release of the iPhone 6. Besides that, though, there’s everything to love and little to hate in Apple’s latest iPhone.

Initial thoughts from this week’s Apple event

This post originally appeared in NotedTech on 12 September 2015.

Once again, in what doesn’t seem like a full year, we’re looking back at another iPhone event. This time, though, Apple packed in quite a lot of information about products across its device lines. 

It wasn’t until I rewatched the event yesterday that I was able to get all of the details and finally start thinking about everything that was announced. Here are some of my initial thoughts.

APPLE WATCH

While there is little new that Apple announced regarding Apple Watch, what they didmention was pretty nice. New bands and models, especially the gold Sport models, have the potential to bring more people to the Apple Watch. If you’ve seen the rose gold aluminum case with the lavender sport band, you understand what I mean.

It’s nice to see Apple adding more options to the ‘entry level’ Watch. This keeps the Edition model for those that actually care if their Watch is made of gold or just looks like gold.

IPAD PRO

Since it debuted, the iPad has been perplexing for many and has seemed like a product with no clear vision for some. Is it a productivity machine? Is it just for consumption? While Apple has tried to show that it can do both, the iPad has yet to make in-roads into the enterprise market and creative industries.

The iPad Pro has the potential to change that. With a larger screen, a highly accurate Apple Pencil stylus, and enough processing power to run two full iPad apps side-by-side (thanks to iOS 9’s new multitasking capabilities). The possibilities of being more productive with this new device, while very familiar to existing iPads, have me wondering if the recent partnerships with IBM and Cisco were pre-requisites to the iPad Pro’s launch. These partnerships give Apple a foot in the door of corporate IT departments, and this new iPad could be the iOS device to open that door wider.

It also made perfect sense (for Apple at least) to have Microsoft and Adobe showing off their software on the larger 12.9-inch display. 

I personally find myself using my iPad every day. It’s a great device for when I want to do things while I relax. Reading when I’m off work? Playing a game? Creating a new backing track in GarageBand? It’s perfect.

The problem lately has been with iPad sales. It doesn’t have the same upgrade cycle that smartphones do. I know many people that are still using an iPad 2 (from 2011) or iPad 3 (from 2012). And they’re perfectly happy with their devices. I don’t see the iPad Pro pushing a lot of people to upgrade. What I do see is the iPad Pro reaching people that normally wouldn’t want an iPad, much like the iPad mini caught a new segment of tablet users. We’ll have to see how people react once the iPad Pro launches in November.

APPLE TV

Apple says the future of the TV is apps. While that includes bringing downloadable games and other similar apps to the big screen, I think there’s more potential than that. Apple TV already has support for networks like HBO and Showtime. Having support for third party apps now makes it even easier for other networks and stations to start bringing their content to Apple TV users. And this is without a new streaming TV service like what Apple supposedly is working on. 

This in itself, added with the existing capabilities of the new Apple TV, make me feel like it is a vital addition to someone’s living room. Already, my family uses it for 90% of our TV watching, either through content in iTunes, using Home Sharing from a nearby Mac, or AirPlaying content from an iOS device. Add apps with support for more cable networks and shows and you can definitely say goodbye to cable.

IPHONE 6S

The iPhone 6s rumors seemed to all come true. New 12 megapixel camera, A9 chip, potentially 2 GB of RAM, newer and faster wireless technologies, and Force 3D Touch. But seeing all of it, including how 3D Touch is being used, as well as Live Photos, makes the iPhone 6s a definite buy for me. Then again, I’m still using an iPhone 5s. Anyone running an older iPhone than the iPhone 6 should definitely consider this upgrade.

I didn’t think 3D Touch would be that big of a deal. But with how Apple has implemented it for additional functionality without compromising the current Multi-Touch system is impressive. It’ll be something that I probably could describe better once I’ve used it. I’ll tell you all about it after September 25, when iPhone 6s starts shipping.

Overall, I think the Apple event went pretty well. It flowed better and was more interesting than their WWDC Keynote in June. I’ll just call that a temporary hiccup in their otherwise well organized events. And if Apple decides to surprise us with another event next month, perhaps with Mac news, let’s hope it goes off as well as this event did.