About the iPhone X notch controversy

The iPhone X was already controversial even before it was officially introduced last Tuesday, mostly due to the rumored removal of Touch ID in favor of Face ID.

However, Apple’s presentation caused a new controversy: the infamous notch. Even though the array of cameras and sensors got leaked long before the event, nobody knew how Apple was planning to do in order to integrate it with iOS 11. We have the answer now: Apple is so proud of that black bar that they decided to render the user interface around it.

Since Apple controls the operating system, they made sure it looks good with most 1st party apps. But what happens with 3rd party content like a website? The notch gets in the way.Safari adds two very noticeable white bars around the content to work around the notch, creating a horrendous experience with many webpages. And when the notch is on the right side, the scrollbar becomes practically useless:

Developers have already started investigating ways of adapting their content (controlling the color of those white bars with CSS, for example), but it’s a problem that Apple could have avoided in the first place.

Look at this design, for example; it’s simple and yet, it fixes all of possible notch issues by avoiding the top region altogether:

If iOS rendered all apps (including Safari) that way, developers would be confident that their content can never be blocked by the notch, regardless of the orientation of the device. Aesthetically it looks better too. The internet is already filled with many designs that go in the same direction, and most of them look better than what Apple did.

Apple is using the notch as a brand statement: it makes the iPhone X immediately recognizable from any other phone and it draws attention to the amazing technology that it packs. But I believe they should have let the notch disappear in certain situations, like web browsing.

I doubt that there will be any changes to iOS 11 before the release of the iPhone X; Apple will probably wait to see the reception of the phone before making any drastic changes. But I bet that they will address the notch interference in a future software update. The alternative is an ugly and bumpy road filled with usability and development issues.


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Images via Apple, Thomas Fuchs, Ben Packard, Carlos Gavina

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3 reasons why I’m excited about the new iPhone

Apple will present the new iPhone this Tuesday and, as usual, most of the details have already been leaked.

What seems guaranteed is that we’ll see 3 models being introduced: the iPhone 7s, 7s Plus and a special edition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone. That special edition has been known until now as iPhone 8, iPhone Edition, or iPhone Pro, but the official name iPhone X has been confirmed (among other details) thanks to the final version of iOS 11 leaking.

These are the top 3 reasons why I’m excited about the iPhone X.

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How to swap your iPhone 6s for the new iPhone 7 using the iPhone Upgrade Program

If you used the new iPhone Upgrade Program to get your iPhone 6s, you will probably be wondering how to swap it for the new iPhone 7 when it comes out next month.

Since this is the very first year that the Upgrade Program has been active, I was wondering the same thing, so I went online to get some answers from the always helpful Apple Store Specialists.

Here is the full transcript:

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016 06:48 PM
Duration: 9 minutes 51 seconds

Apple:
Welcome to Apple.
What can we do for you today?
Ivan:
Hi, I wanted to know how will the iPhone Upgrade Program work when a new iPhone is released. How will I be able to exchange my iPhone for a new one?
Apple:
Please wait while I connect you with an Apple Specialist.
Kaitlyn:
Welcome to the Apple Online Store! My name is Kaitlyn! I can absolutely help with your iPhone Upgrade Program questions.
Are you currently on the iPhone Upgrade Program?
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What’s the mission statement of your favorite tech company?

Last Saturday I found out about AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s computer capable of beating the European champion at the game Go; it uses “deep neural networks that have been trained by supervised learning, from human expert games, and by reinforcement learning from games of self-play“, and it’s still unknown if humans can beat it.

Watching the project’s website I noticed the copyright at the bottom and thought: is DeepMind actually aligned with Google’s business goals? A quick look to their mission statement refreshed my memory:

Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

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Apple vs FBI, who’s right?

You might think that this case is an easy one, that Apple wants to protect its customers’ privacy and the government doesn’t, that Apple is right and the FBI is not. Well, it’s not that simple.

First, let me provide a little bit of context:

  1. On December 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tafsheen Malik shot and killed 14 people and injured 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
  2. The FBI recovered an iPhone 5c, issued by Farook’s employer, which “may contain critical communications and data prior to and around the time of the shooting“.
  3. The FBI obtained a warrant to search the iPhone, and the owner of the iPhone gave the FBI its consent.
  4. The iPhone is locked and the FBI asked Apple to help execute the search warrant.

Apple refused on a very long letter written by CEO Tim Cook (full text here). Here’s a little extract:

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

After reading that letter, I concluded that Apple was right, but after a discussion with a good friend, I realized that my conclusion was too simplistic.

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Steve Jobs would have loved the Apple Pencil

You have probably heard about the announcements that Apple made on Wednesday around the Apple TV, iPhone 6S, iPad Pro… and the Apple Pencil.

As usual, there are a lot of memes and jokes about the keynote, specially around the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil; for example, a comic is making the rounds on Twitter highlighting the new iPad’s similarities with Microsoft’s Surface; and then there is this:

Putting aside whether or not the Apple Pencil is revolutionary, is it fair to bring back that image from 2007? I don’t think so. Steve Jobs’ words were uttered in a very different context, when people were used to interact with their incipient smartphones with a stylus (or with their nails).

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Amazon and the art of writing: interview with author and literary agent Mary C. Moore

Both Amazon and Apple have made recent announcements that have resonated across the literary and music industries (even though Apple has already made a royalties policy U-turn after a controversial open letter from Taylor Swift).

We live in a society where technology allows consumers to access creative content easier and faster than ever, so I wanted to better understand how some of these decisions (like Amazon’s new pay-per-page policy) affect the industry at its core. Below, you can read an interview with Mary C. Moore, author and literary agent.

Amazon recently announced a new payment policy for self-publishing authors where they’ll basically get paid for each page of their book that people actually read. Amazon claims that they received great feedback from authors, so how do you think this will affect the industry?

Well, this is speculation and opinions on this strategy vary wildly across the board. As the way it stands now, the largest impact is going to be on the self-publishing authors who publish exclusively through Amazon. Beyond that, the effects will probably be felt on writing trends. A pay-per-page system skews in favor of high-paced, tension-filled, cliff-hanging writing that makes the reader continue to turn the page rather than some of the more subtle and nuanced books that perhaps favor lovely writing, or a surreal storyline, or something more abstract.

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3 things I didn’t know about the Apple Watch

After one week wearing the Apple Watch, I can reaffirm my comments on why I believe it will be a success. It may not be the first smartwatch to reach the market, nor the most complete in terms of features, but one thing is clear: Apple has done what it does best, create a simple but delightful experience with a product category that other competitors have already tried mastering.

I had read tons of articles and reviews before getting an Apple Watch of my own, and yet this first week I discovered a few things, good and bad, that surprised me. These are the top 3:

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Why the Apple Watch will be a success

Apple announced during its last earnings report that it sold 74.5 million iPhone units in 2015’s first fiscal quarter. Let that number settle in.

As CNN Money wrote, that means “34,000 iPhones sold every hour, every day, every week of the past three months. That’s 9 iPhones every second.

But that’s not it, Apple also sold 51 million iPhones only in 2014’s first fiscal quarter, and 47.8 million units the year before, which means that there are over 170 million potential customers for the Apple Watch.

Now, I know that doesn’t mean every iPhone user will get an Apple Watch, especially since smartwatches sales are having a rough start (only 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped in 2014). There are, however, 2 points that I believe will make a difference in Apple’s case.

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Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5s

Three years ago, I switched from an iPhone 3Gs with iOS 4.2 to a Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7 and I wrote a series of posts about the changes (here’s the translation, powered by Bing: part I, II and III).

Things have changed a lot since 2010: Android has surpassed iOS and is now the market-share king, Google bought Motorola, Blackberry has “disappeared”, Windows Phone has evolved quite a bit and Microsoft is in the middle of the process of buying Nokia’s devices & services business.

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