¶ Last Week’s iPhone and Watch Event

Apple held their annual iPhone — and now Apple Watch — event last week on September 10. This is easily Apple’s biggest event of the year where they roll out the latest and greatest iPhones and other hardware, just in time for people to begin thinking about the Christmas shopping season.

Apple has posted the full event on YouTube, along with a humorous 2 minute summary that is worth watching. I have some quick thoughts on everything that was announced, so let’s get started.

Apple Arcade

On September 19th Apple Arcade will ship within iOS 13. Apple has worked with a lot of game developers to launch 100+ new games exclusive to Apple platforms this fall. And these aren’t just for iPhones and iPads. They’ll be available on Mac and Apple TV, too. And this year’s new operating systems support pairing Playstation and Xbox One controllers, which is great news for gaming.

While gaming on iOS is popular, it’s rife with sleazy grifts of in-app purchases and sketchy ads that are probably harvesting all sorts of data. Apple Arcade solves this with high-quality games without ads or in-app purchases. And the price is extremely compelling: $4.99 per month, and it covers up to six people with Family Sharing.

I don’t play many games on iOS (even less on Apple TV and none on Mac). My son, however, loves gaming on his iPad mini. I’m often reluctant to install new games on his iPad because they are often, for lack of better words, crappy. While my family may not hop on Apple Arcade right away, I can see it being a peace of mind alternative to all these games with questionable motives.

Apple TV+

As if anyone needs yet another TV subscription, Apple is coming out with their own. The big difference between Apple TV+ and contenders like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ is Apple does not have a vast content back catalog to lean on. All they have is all-new original content. But that content looks good. And the price is pretty great, too. $4.99 per month for the whole family. And, starting now, if you buy an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac, a whole year of Apple TV+ is included. Boom.


The iPad lineup has settled into having something for everyone. The iPad as the entry level, the iPad mini for folks who like petite tablets, the iPad Air for people wanting a bit more productivity, and the iPad Pro for those looking to use an iPad as a laptop replacement.

One of the lines got a little more blurred with last week’s update to the entry-level iPad. Going from a 9.7-inch screen to a 10.2-inch screen and gaining a Smart Connector for use with the Smart Keyboard Cover makes the iPad a close contender with the 10.5-inch iPad Air. And the iPad maintained its $329 starting price. That’s pretty fantastic.

It’s definitely a no-brainer for someone’s first iPad.

Apple Watch Series 5

The Apple Watch remains one of my favorite devices. Like the rest of the internet, I was struggling to think of what exactly could be improved on from last year’s Series 4. I had settled on the idea of improved power management to enable sleep tracking. I wasn’t wrong on improved power management, but I was dead wrong on what it would be used for.

The Apple Watch Series 5 has an always-on display, which is a really nice touch. Anyone who has ever worn an Apple Watch knows that it needs a certain amount of tilt and motion to figure out you want to see the display and light it up. There’s no way to really sneak a casual peek at the time. Now that won’t be a problem.

Apple also added a built-in compass and the cellular communications work better in more places, but other than that there isn’t much new on the technology side.

On the materials side the lineup expands from aluminum and stainless steel to include titanium and the return of ceramic. Titanium and ceramic bear the Edition name, which translates to a giant sack of money for a watch. While I will never own an Edition model, I must admit I yearn for that white ceramic case. I’ll satiate that desire by trying one on at the Apple Store for a few moments.

I’ll be sticking with my Series 4. It does its job amazingly well and will be even better with watchOS 6. But if you have a Series 2 or older, definitely consider the Series 5. Apple is keeping the Series 3 around at $199, which I imagine made some Fitbit execs lose sleep.

iPhone 11

I love my iPhone XS and it was the right choice for me, but it certainly is not the right choice for most people. For the past year the iPhone for most people has been the iPhone XR, but Apple’s initial marketing seemed to position it as the lesser sibling of the XS. And that seemed to stick among people I know. They felt the iPhone XS was the good phone, and the XR was an also-ran, even though I greatly encouraged folks to check out the XR.

Apple’s marketing is on point this year with the iPhone 11, which is the spiritual successor to the iPhone XR, but positioned as the standard iPhone. Naming matters. And it’s truly a great phone with a great camera, a second ultra-wide camera, and a Night Mode that, combined, I think will be very popular. And it has an extra hour of battery life compared to the already impressive XR.

I’ve already heard from friends and family that they think it’s time for them to upgrade and they have their eyes on the colorful lineup of the iPhone 11. Especially since the price is $50 less than the iPhone XR’s previous price point.

iPhone 11 Pro

Whereas the iPhone 11 is a great phone and camera for everyone, naturally there are some people who want a little more. iPhone 11 Pro is for these people. The wide camera lens is joined by not only the new ultra-wide lens from the iPhone 11, but also a telephoto lens á la the iPhone XS. And like the iPhone XS it has an OLED display. It has better water resistance than the 11. For most other specs, though, it has the same guts as the iPhone 11.

It does not, however, have the rainbow of colors of its sibling. The iPhone 11 Pro sticks with the very “pro” colors of silver (white), space grey, and gold — along with a new midnight green. The best description of the new color I’ve seen comes from John Gruber: “Boba Fett-y”.

One spec that is remarkably impressive is battery life. The iPhone 11 Pro boasts 4 more hours than the iPhone XS, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max 5 more hours than the iPhone XS Max. That’s insane for a year-over-year jump.

Now, let’s talk about the naming here. iPhone 11 Pro is the perfect modifier for the luxury model of iPhone this year. The name positions itself as a step up from the iPhone for most everyone, rather than last year’s naming positioning the more affordable option as a step down. There’s a difference.

But iPhone 11 Pro Max? That’s a mouthful. I get that Apple wants to differentiate the smaller and larger screens of iPhone 11 Pro, but do they need to? I would have rather seen both be named simply iPhone 11 Pro, and then talk about the different screen sizes separately, as they do with iMacs, iPad Pros, and MacBook Pros.

The naming of the iPhone 11 Pro Max aside, I think the 2019 lineup of iPhones is stellar. I know a lot of iPhone 7 owners that have held on to them, skipping the iPhone 8/X, and XR/XS. Now in their third year of ownership, they are noticing the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, and considering upgrading.

While I am keen toward the iPhone 11 Pro, I’ll be recommending the iPhone 11 to most people. It has an impressive feature set, a variety of colors, and a more affordable price that is in line with the iPhone 7 of a few years ago. iPhone 11 is the default iPhone, and it deserves to be.

¶ Making a Compelling Apple TV Update

I love my Apple TV HD. It is effectively the core interface for my TV, since I don’t use any of the “smart TV” features. In fact, I rarely use the TV’s own remote. When I pick up the Apple TV remote and press a button, the TV turns on. When I put the Apple TV to sleep, the TV turns off. And I have the Apple TV remote’s volume switch tied to my soundbar. It’s really fantastic, and I’ve gotten a lot of value from my Apple TV over the years.

I love that my Apple TV has been going strong for years, and shows no sign of reaching obsolescence. Apple doesn’t release new models very often. The most recent advancement to the Apple TV hardware was the Apple TV 4K. I’m sure that’s great for today’s 4K screens. Aside from being able to display 4K video, the newer hardware also supports Dolby Atmos for sound. As an avid Apple TV user with a 1080p TV, there is nothing that compels me to move to the newer Apple TV 4K. And that’s fine. The lower priced (though still expensive at $149) HD version suits my needs perfectly.

But I have been thinking about what could be done to move the Apple TV hardware forward. The rumor mill paints a pretty lackluster picture of a chip update, presumably to drive gaming with the upcoming Apple Arcade service. That’s cool and all, but what could be done to make Apple TV…well, more worthy of its price tag?

Last night I was perusing The Verge, and I saw two closely related articles: First, the Roku Smart Soundbar which combines a 4K Roku set-top box with a nice looking soundbar, and; second, Anker is making an nearly identical product, but equipped with Amazon’s Fire TV.

This sounds like (pun not intended) exactly what Apple should do for a future Apple TV. Create a soundbar that looks stunning with a TV, taking what they have learned about sound from the HomePod, building in the Apple TV hardware and tvOS, and letting that deliver a rich on-screen and audio experience. Maybe it could pair with a HomePod or two to bring true surround sound.

An Apple TV soundbar would make a compelling device able to push Apple Music and the upcoming Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade services.

Watch Apple's October Event Live Today

A couple years ago Apple live-streamed a couple of their events, which was amazingly awesome. Then they stopped — until now.

Today at 10:00 am PDT, you can watch the Apple Event live from an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or a web browser or you can watch on a special Apple Event channel that appeared on Apple TVs all over this morning. (You may need to reboot the Apple TV to see the channel appear).

I’m glad to see the return of live-streaming, and I’m pretty thankful to be a remote worker from home.

¶ A 4-Inch Screen

I was just looking at this article over at AppleInsider about a patent application from Apple regarding a touchscreen universal remote. There has been a lot of talk since the debut of Steve Jobs’ biography about Apple releasing an actual television set, rather than the current $99 Apple TV. So, in that sense, a universal TV remote would make sense, right? Heck, it even makes sense for the current form factor if you ask me. Right now I have to dig out a separate remote just to turn my TV on.

Now, there’s also been some talk about the next iPhone having a 4-inch screen, which I just don’t see happening. It would either diminish the crispness of the retina display, or, to keep the pixels per inch at retina quality, a new screen resolution would need to be introduced. This would be a nightmare for developers and designers, as they already have to support at least two resolutions for the iPhone. When Apple introduced the retina display, the increased the dimensions by exactly double. This makes it easier to design an interface.

What if the 4-inch screen rumor isn’t destined for the iPhone?

What if it is for a touchscreen universal remote that doesn’t run App Store apps?

Think about that.


Apple released iOS 4.2.1 today for iPhone, iPod touch, & iPad (indeed, 4.2 itself never publicly graced an iOS device).

Apple, of course, has a nice page detailing all the features of the iOS 4.2 update.

For iPhone and iPod touch owners, the two keystone features are AirPrint and AirPlay. Other than that, there are many little tweaks and polish to iOS.

The real news surrounding the 4.2 update is the ipad. Back when the iPad was released, iOS 4 hadn’t been announced yet. Instead, the iPad received its own special branch of iOS 3 — 3.2 to be exact. So iOS 4.2 is the iPad’s first encounter with the features its smaller sized siblings have been enjoying for months. To name a few: multitasking, folders, Game Center, & Mail improvements. For the first time, the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad are on the same iOS.



Multitasking has been enjoyed by iPhone and iPod touch users for a while, and any of your universal apps that have multitasking support will work automatically with multitasking after the update. Standalone iPad apps will need updates to work with the new feature, and those have been trickling into the App Store steadily over the past week or so.

Multitasking works as advertised, just like on the iPhone and iPod touch. The only hindrance I can foresee being a problem for heavy multitaskers is running up against the iPad’s limited 256 MB of memory. It really hasn’t been much of a problem for me (I’ve had 4.2.1 since the weekend, so I’ve had time to play). It would be nice if the next iPad hardware had at least 512 MB of memory (1 GB would be even better).


Folders is the feature I’ve been wanting on the iPad since I bought my iPhone 4. I’ve easily consolidated my homescreen count from five to two, which is much nicer. Once again, if you’ve used folders on iOS 4 before, you’ve seen this already. It’s just nice to have congruency across my iPhone and iPad.

Game Center

Game Center is Apple’s built-in achievements, leader board, and multiplayer platform for iOS. Now it is on the iPad. Like some of the other iPad apps, Game Center has an expanded user interface to accommodate the larger screen size.


Hallelujah, Mail now has unified inbox and threaded messages! These features are things I’m amazed weren’t shipped with iOS 1.0, but it’s good to have them. I’ve loved them on the iPhone, and it’s great to have them on the iPad, especially since the iPad is a great experience for dealing with an unruly inbox.

iPhone and iPod touch

The changes that are new to the iPhone and iPod touch are less noticeable. There are new sounds for SMS/MMS alerts to choose from. They honestly sound as if Apple hired a composer from Looney Toons. There are new parental controls, including disabling some of Game Center and one I about did a backflip over — disbaling the deletion of apps. My son just loves to delete all the toddler games from his iPod touch on a long roadtrip. Trust me, I could high five the Apple employee that added this.

Also, the birthday calendar now sports a wrapped gift icon, helping to make someone’s special day stand out a little more against your busy schedule. Voice Memos got a new icon, somehow even uglier than before.

Another nice feature is font choices in the Notes app. Marker Felt is still there, but is now joined by Chalkboard and the ever-wonderful Helvetica.

AirPrint and AirPlay

AirPrint allows your iOS device to print wirelessly. When the feature was announced, it was revealed that it would work without additional setup with select HP printers, and then with a little extra work, your existing printer that is shared with your Mac or PC. Unfortunately, only the former found its way to the release. It is unknown if the latter is delayed temporarily or indefinitely.

AirPlay, on the other hand, is something I am extremely excited for. AirPlay allows you to stream audio, video, or photo content to your TV from an iOS device via Apple TV, or audio to AirPlay-compatible third-party speakers. It works today with the new Apple TV, and third party speakers, such as the iHome iW1, will be available around the holidays. I definitely plan on putting a couple iW1’s around the house.

That’s about all that is worth mentioning. If you find any other gems in the release, drop a note in the comments.