Opinion ▪ October 2

AAPL: 110.38

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Linked to this still iPhone 6s Plus photo are both motion and audio that further capture the moment

Live Photos aren’t perfect. The video shot in a Live Photo is a mediocre 12 frames per second, compared to the 30fps iPhones generally capture. Low-light photos are noticeably less vibrant when Live Photos are enabled. Shoot a Live Photo in the wrong orientation then rotate it, and you’ll revert back to a standard photo. Sharing Live Photos is fairly fragmented by Apple standards, even on Macs running the latest versions of OS X El Capitan. And it’s not easy to frame the perfect Live Photo; great ones tend to happen by chance, not technique.

But despite obvious day one omissions in the Live Photo experience, I’m honestly quite surprised at just how much I appreciate the new iPhone 6s/6s Plus feature. Using my iPhone 6s Plus for a full week now, my take on Live Photos has evolved from “curious but confused” to “I get it but when should I use it?” to wishing I had Live Photos years ago. Read on for how I believe Apple can improve the Live Photos experience and how the new iPhone 6s feature has changed my approach to shooting photos and videos… expand full story

Opinion ▪ September 13

AAPL: 114.21

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I don’t plan on subscribing to Apple Music when my free trial of the service runs out. It’s not really something I care to pay $10 a month for. I’m not an avid music listener; I sometimes put some hip hop on in the car, but that’s about it. For me, paying $10 every month for access to a large library of music that I don’t plan to use to the fullest extent just isn’t worth it, and I prefer to own what music I do listen to.

I also hate the idea of subscription software, like Adobe’s current Creative Cloud offering. Like my music, I’d rather own my software outright than pay a monthly fee to have access to it. The same is true for just about every other subscription service that’s out there.

So it might surprise you to find out that I think Apple should get into the TV and movie subscription business. What’s more, I’d be willing to pay every single month for access to that service. Why the difference of opinion on this topic? Keep reading and find out.

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Opinion ▪ September 11

AAPL: 114.21

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Apple TV’s user interface has been through more changes over the past 8 years than any other Apple OS — the rare Apple UI that has seen more major changes than the devices it runs on. As improbable as this might have seemed for a “hobby,” fixing the Apple TV was one of the last topics Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs discussed with biographer Walter Isaacson: “I finally cracked it,” Jobs said about an upcoming Apple TV UI. “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” apparently indicating that complex remotes would be a thing of the past. But after Jobs passed away, the Apple TV received only a couple of modest tweaks — improvements, but modest nonetheless — as Jobs’ mysterious “simplest UI” apparently remained unused.

As an Apple TV user and fan, I’ve spent years waiting for this week’s introduction of the fourth-generation Apple TV, as much for improved hardware as the opportunity to see Jobs’ vision in action. I’ve long suspected that pervasive voice control was the missing link — Siri was added to the iPhone 4S just before Jobs died — and from every indication, Apple has done a wonderful job of building voice navigation into the new Apple TV’s tvOS operating system. But did it get the rest of the UI right, or are we in for more years of main menu redesigns? Let’s take a look at what tvOS 1.0 gets right and wrong…

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Opinion ▪ August 26

AAPL: 109.69

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Apple has called the iPhone “the world’s most popular camera,” a title originally earned by aggregating all iPhones together for counting purposes. But while the exact sales numbers for each iPhone model are difficult to quantify, there’s no question that Apple has already sold over 750 million iPhones, and well over 100 million iPhone 6 devices. Those are huge numbers, and well beyond the typical sales of individual point-and-shoot cameras.

Few people appreciate that growing iPhone demand has created an unusual challenge for Apple: reliably sourcing the tens of millions of parts needed to meet first month demand for tens of millions of iPhones. To that end, Apple’s camera maker Sony had to upgrade its manufacturing plants twice this year to produce more of the CMOS image sensors needed for smartphones including the iPhone. Even with a partner as large as Sony, however, iPhone-specific engineering requirements and the risk inherent in brand new technologies have led Apple to hold off on using the latest and greatest camera innovations in its devices. Instead, iPhones go with thin, lower-resolution sensors that offer great overall image quality for their size, and never eclipse rivals on raw specs.

So what can we realistically expect from the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus cameras next month? Here are my educated guesses…

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I love AirPlay. It’s simple and elegant. It also means that my elderly but much-loved B&O Ouverture hifi system (with BeoLab 6000 speakers) – which is actually so old that it has a cassette deck – needed only a low-cost WiFi audio receiver to allow it to wirelessly stream music from my MacBook Pro. One $40 add-on and a 20-year-old hifi became bang up to date in its capabilities.

With my particular setup, AirPlay does exactly what we expect of Apple products: It Just Works. I open iTunes, select ‘B&O’ from the speaker output menu, and anything I play in iTunes – whether from my own music library or streamed from Apple Music – plays through the hifi, while system sounds continue to play through the Mac speakers. My partner can stream her own music from her iPad or iPhone just as readily.

I’d previously tried a Bluetooth audio receiver, and the difference between that and AirPlay is night and day. No pairing. No worries about distance. No interference when someone walks between the Mac and hifi. No system sounds emerging at deafening volumes though my hifi speakers.

But despite my own happy experience of it, AirPlay is not without its problems …  expand full story

Opinion ▪ August 25

AAPL: 103.74

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As anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter will tell you, I’ve been openly critical of the Apple Watch and the entire concept of smartwatches for a long time now. Most people have responded with an attitude of “don’t knock it until you try it,” which I suppose is a fair attitude to have. The problem was that I had no plans to spend over $300 (or $1,000 for the model I really liked) to try an Apple Watch.

Recently, however, an opportunity arose to try the watch out for a while. I was offered a loaner watch to test out an app that I was covering. I accepted the offer and spent about a week with it, wearing it full-time and using it for everything I could (including, of course, using the app that I was testing whenever I could). Earlier this year my colleague Ben Lovejoy had been convinced to keep his after using it for a week.

Could I be convinced that the watch was, in fact, a convenient and useful gadget to have in the same amount of time? I went into this week with an open mind to find out.

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