Opinion: Why the iPhone 6 camera is only 8 megapixels

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Date: Monday, September 29th, 2014, 18:07
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Opinion, Pictures

By Bob Snow

The iPhone 6 camera has the same 8 megapixel count as the 5s and this has spec-happy geeks bashing the phone. There are compelling reasons for going lower and I will try to lay them out.

Small sensors can suffer when they have a high pixel density. The sites that gather light become very small and they typically sacrifice low light performance. Low light performance gets traded off for higher resolution and even this becomes an issue with small sensors. No matter how high the resolution of the sensor, lens resolution comes into play much more when the sensor is small. If the sensor is small enough, the lens will not have nearly enough resolving power to take advantage of all the pixels. You need a bigger sensor for that. The image can only be as sharp as the light coming from the lens and that will most likely be the limiting factor. Think of a tiny sensor with a trillion pixels. Lens resolution will be the limiting factor.

iphone6camera

There is another reason the iPhone uses an 8MP sensor. Post processing. The latest iPhone 6 does a hell of a lot of post processing. According to Apple, “Auto image stabilization makes up for motion blur and hand shakiness by taking four photos with a short exposure time. Then the best parts of those photos are combined into one image with as little noise, subject motion, and hand shake as possible.” Apple is even using multiple exposures to eliminate noise in post processing. That is a lot of work, even for the powerful 64-bit A8 processor. The more pixels, the more processing that needs to happen. HDR is another feature that requires post processing. Multiple exposures are taken and then combined to create an image with greater dynamic range. Then there is burst mode. The camera takes up to ten images per second and then compares them all to select the best image. The biggest change to the camera of the iPhone 6 is the use of paired “focus pixels” which allow for phase detection auto focus. This is faster than contrast detection and provides big improvements to video and faster still shot focusing. Think about all of the post processing this phone does to the images, all without a hint of delay.

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Opinion: Flexibility Under Stress

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Date: Monday, September 29th, 2014, 18:37
Category: iPhone, Opinion

By Bob Snow

The new iPhone 6 Plus appears to have a problem. There have been a number of reports of the Plus deforming under a relatively normal mode of use. The phone, when placed in a front pocket for a length of time and stressed, can bend and not return to its original flat form. This is not a problem that can be simply dismissed, nor is it the end of the world. Apple knows how to benefit from the emotion and hype in the lead up to such an important introduction. The downside is that any negative publicity about the product gets similarly amplified. Take a deep breath and let’s look at the ramifications.

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Apple relies on profits from phone sales more than any other product line, and the Plus is a costly and very personal product from the perspective of the consumer. There is a lot riding on this, but it could be much worse. I don’t think the problem will effect the 4.7-inch phone, which should represent the bulk of iPhone 6 sales. Keep in mind that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are still available. What remains to be seen is how many of the iPhone 6 Plus phones get bent and how Apple addresses the problem with customers. Phones with glass screens break all the time. I suspect many, many more of the Plus screens will break in the course of use than phones bending. Apple needs to treat customers with bent phones well. Give them a replacement phone, even credit towards a rival phone through their carrier, if the customer wants to keep a large screened phone in their pocket. For obvious reasons, this is going to be an almost exclusively male problem.

Why is this happening? The phone is made of aluminum. Aluminum, at least initially, bends elastically and springs back. Beyond that, it will deform plastically and not return to its original shape. The sides are critical to the strength of the phone in bending and they may not be strong enough, especially around the button holes. A plastic phone like the 5c remains elastic in bending to a far greater degree. It is more likely to crack or bend far enough to break the screen, before becoming permanently deformed. Plastic has a lot going for it and nothing to apologize for, but the aluminum phones feel great in your hand and there is an aesthetic to them that is very elegant.

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iOS 8′s MAC randomization requires cellular data & location services to be disabled

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Date: Saturday, September 27th, 2014, 15:36
Category: iOS, iOS 8, iPhone, privacy

You know that we love, cherish and respect your privacy here at The PowerPage, right?

Privacy bugs will be interested in reading Apple’s new “Privacy built in” microsite, which extolls the virtues of some of the new privacy features that are baked into iOS 8. While it’s a huge step in the right directions for the consumer (so much so that the FBI is spreading FUD about it), some industry experts are taking issue with one of the new features.

At issue is what Apple calls Randomized Wi-Fi addresses. In reading that section of Privacy Built In, one could be left to believe that merchants and retailers can no longer track your movements and behavior by scanning your iPhone’s Wi-Fi MAC address. While Apple has taken steps to obscure it in iOS 8, it’s not a simple (or automatic) as Apple leads us to believe.

A new blog post from AirTight Networks’ Bhupinder Misra called “iOS8 MAC Randomization – Analyzed!” (read parts 1 and 2) takes issue with Apple’s claims that iOS 8 uses randomized and locally administrated Wi-Fi MAC addresses in the probing state. For his blog posts Misra used sophisticated packet sniffing gear to dig into the inner workings of randomized MAC addresses.

His conclusions:

On the iPhone 5s, MAC randomization happens only under the following conditions:

  1. Phone is in sleep mode (display off, not being used)
  2. Wi-Fi should be ON but not associated
  3. Location services should be OFF in privacy settings

Then after reading scandalous reports from The Washington Post and Gizmodo stating that “Apple’s new feature to curb phone tracking won’t work if you’re actually using your phone” he decided to dig a little deeper and discovered that location services should be OFF for random MAC addresses to actually show up.

It has to do with the cellular data connection setting. Basically, if the phone’s cellular data connection is ON, there is no MAC randomization! If you now turn OFF the cellular data connection (Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data OFF), random MAC addresses show up.

Rups!

iOS8 MAC RandomGate:  Who turns OFF location services AND turns OFF cellular data connection while using their iPhone?

So if both Cellular Data and Location Services have to be switched off to randomize MAC addresses, it’s not really much of a privacy feature then, is it? I think that Apple needs to clarify how this feature really works and it should probably remove it completely from the fancy new Privacy Built In page.

Misra says it best:

Bottom line, this further shrinks the population which is covered by MAC address randomization, perhaps to inconsequential levels and maybe even zero. Who turns OFF location services AND turns OFF cellular data connection while using their iPhone. That is why I now call it “iOS8 MAC RandomGate”.

Apple’s done a lot right with respect to user privacy, but this one seems a tad disingenuous to me.

How-To: How to check and manage battery usage under iOS 8

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 26th, 2014, 15:03
Category: How-To, iPhone, iPod, News

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Ok, this is nifty.

Or at least it’ll make Thanksgiving encounters with your relatives wherein they show you their iPhone, ask why it’s only getting 90 minutes of battery life and you point out the 67 open applications while wondering how you’re related to these people a bit easier.

Per AppleInsider, a new new battery tracking feature can be found in iOS 8 by opening the Settings application and navigating to General, Usage, Battery Usage. The list will take a second to populate before displaying a list of apps and how much energy they are consumed.

Apps can be listed in terms of battery usage over the last 24 hours, and over the last week. The percentages displayed show the proportion of battery used by each application when the iPhone is not charging.

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Apple outlines iPhone 6, 6 Plus bend test process

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Date: Friday, September 26th, 2014, 15:11
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

History will decide if the bent iPhone 6 Plus scandal will be termed “Bendgate” or “Bendygate” or something else, but one thing’s for certain: Apple’s come up with a reply to it.

Per Macworld and The Verge, the company has stated that only nine users have complained to Apple regarding the iPhone 6 Plus bending in their pockets. The company has gone on to state that about 15,000 iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets were tested prior to shipping last week. While this is only a small fraction of the 10 million units sold so far, they do represent a decent sample group that endure day-to-day rigors throughout the testing process.

bendygate

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Apple posts iOS 8.0.2 update, chases down Touch ID, cellular connectivity bugs reported in iOS 8.0.1

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 25th, 2014, 20:12
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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This may avert another 24 hours of iOS update crisis.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Thursday released iOS 8.0.2.

The update, which is available as an over-the-air update or via iTunes, includes the bug fixes that were included in the original iOS 8.0.1 update as well as repairs Touch ID and cellular services.

After installing iOS 8.0.1 yesterday, many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users found that their cellular service was disabled and that Touch ID was non-functional. Apple pulled the iOS 8.0.1 update approximately an hour and fifteen minutes after it was first released, but not before numerous iPhone users were able to download the software. The company announced an investigation in the afternoon, and in the evening, released a support document saying iOS 8.0.2 was in the works and directing users to fix the problem via an iTunes restore to iOS 8.

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Apple to release iOS 8.0.2 update within “a few days”, posts support page helping users roll back to iOS 8.0

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 25th, 2014, 11:11
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

ios8icon

Apple will release iOS 8.0.2, just give it a few days.

According to The Verge, following Apple’s submission and retraction of its iOS 8.0.1 mobile operating system update on Wednesday due to Touch ID and cellular connectivity concerns, the company has said that it has identified the cause of these bugs and is planning to release a newer iOS 8.0.2 version with a patch in the coming days, according to a support document posted to the company’s website.

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Updated: Apple releases, pulls iOS 8.0.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, 13:12
Category: iOS, News, Software

ios8icon

It was bound to happen.

On Wednesday, Apple released version 8.0.1 of its iOS mobile operating system. The update, which can be acquired via iTunes or the Software Update feature in iOS 8, offers the following fixes and changes to Apple’s newly-released operating system:

- Fixes a bug so HealthKit apps can now be made available on the App Store.

- Addresses an issue where third-party keyboards could become deselected when a user enters their passcode.

- Fixes an issue that prevented some apps from accessing photos from the Photo Library.

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Apple quietly adds HomeKit support for third-gen Apple TV units

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Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, 12:21
Category: Apple TV, iOS, News, Software

Apple_TV_2nd_Generation

It wasn’t a huge update, but it’s interesting.

According to Forbes, Apple released an Apple TV update allowing for third generation units of the media device to support HomeKit, Apple’s protocol for allowing connected home gadgets to connect safely and easily in iOS.

The update means that Apple TV could be the hub that unifies the fragmented smart home industry, allowing you to turn on your lights or unlock your door from an iPhone remotely using Apple TV as a bridge device. Apple TV has both Bluetooth low energy and Wi-Fi wireless technologies, both of which Apple has made clear are the primary technologies that connected devices will communicate in the iOS environment. Apple TV is a device that is always on in your home, making it ideal as a hub to communicate with smart devices.

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Video surfaces of iPhone 6 Plus being bent with bare hands

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, 11:05
Category: iPhone, News

You might want to be careful with your new iPhone 6 Plus.

Per French web site MacBidouille and the Mac Observer, YouTube channel UnboxTherapy did a bend test on an iPhone 6 Plus handset to see where it stood in terms of physical vulnerability.

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