Editor at 9to5Mac + 9to5Google
Zac covers Apple news and product reviews for 9to5Mac, contributes to 9to5Google, and hosts the weekly 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast.
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I don’t have any hard data on this, folks, but I have a hunch that the iPhone 7 does not combust in the same way that the recalled Samsung Galaxy Note 7 does. It’s trendy in news to apply one attention-grabbing narrative to an unrelated story, but there’s no evidence that suggests the iPhone 7 explodes in normal use like Samsung’s recalled flagship – despite that virally burned up iPhone 7 image.
I admit that I buy a new iPhone every year for the camera upgrades. My iCloud Photo Library is up to 14,633 photos and 1,261 videos and growing. Almost every one of those were captured with an iPhone so its camera matters to me. Last year’s iPhone 6s introduced Live Photos which I absolutely love. (This from November is just one of my favorites; you can view it on the web thanks to Tumblr’s new Live Photo feature).
This year includes Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus which intelligently applies a blur effect over backgrounds on still shots. Portrait mode photos often look like they were shot on dedicated cameras, not smartphones. The feature requires the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus to work and is only available in beta on iOS 10.1 beta for now. Apple wants to fine tune Portrait mode’s performance before it hits primetime, and there are a few things we can already learn about it through testing.
Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has released a new report further forecasting that the 2017 iPhone will likely adopt and glass front and back design like the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. The idea seems to be that the new Jet Black iPhone 7 has proved highly popular with customers due to the appeal of its glossy finish, and glass would make it much less scratch prone; Apple has recommended customers use a case with the glossy aluminum model to avoid ‘micro abrasions’ from general usage.
This week Benjamin and Zac talk about the latest Siri Speaker rumors, potential Apple Watch sleep tracking and smarter heart rate tracking features, the latest news in the HomeKit space, and much more. 9to5Mac’s Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.
Apple has announced a new enterprise partnership with professional services firm Deloitte focused on integrating iPhones and iPads in the workplace. The latest enterprise partnership follows similar arrangements with IBM and SAP. The arrangement with Apple will help Deloitte with “creating a first-of-its-kind Apple practice with over 5,000 strategic advisors” according to the press release.
Highly respected DxOMark has published its ultra detailed iPhone 7 camera review and the results are overwhelmingly positive across the board. iPhone 7 actually scores higher than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, which both tied with lower scores despite an improved camera on both models, which speaks to the advances Apple has made this year on the 4.7-inch iPhone even without the dual-sensor iPhone 7 Plus.
Healthcare company Aetna shared today that it is partnering with Apple on a new health and fitness initiative for its employees and customers using the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch starting in 2017. Aetna will be providing its 50,000 employees with Apple Watches at no cost and subsidizing the cost for large employers and individual customers through a new healthy living initiative.
Honeywell is announcing a new HomeKit-enabled Wi-Fi thermostat today called the Lyric T5 that will cost $149.99. HomeKit support means you can control the temperature with your voice using Siri or with Apple’s new Home app on iOS 10 and watchOS 3. Lyric T5 features a highly improved design over Honeywell’s other HomeKit thermostat and a larger touchscreen display that makes it worthy of being called a smart home accessory.
Apple’s HomeKit feature lets you control “smart” lights with Siri or Apple’s new Home app on iOS 10, and there are generally two ways to make your home lighting more intelligent. You can change your light bulbs to “connected” bulbs that talk to a bridge over Wi-Fi, or you can replace your light switches with “connected” switches that take the same bridge approach.
The Lutron Caséta kit takes the latter approach by replacing your existing light switches with smart switches that make your traditional light bulbs work with Siri. There are notable differences between both approaches including cost and ease-of-setup which I’ll unpack below. And if bells and whistles don’t impress you, Lutron takes the crown for having the most elegant solution to HomeKit lighting with one exception…
Sonos wireless speakers have touted Apple Music compatibility in beta since last year and officially since this year, and now Apple is selling Sonos speakers for the first time. Apple’s online store will begin selling the Play:1 ($199) and Play:5 ($499, reviewed) later today, and Apple’s physical stores will carry the two speakers starting October 5.
Apple still relies on third-party retailers to sell its products in India, and the company is adding a second online retail partner to help ahead of India’s iPhone 7 launch next month. While the iPhone 7 goes on sale in 30 additional countries around the world today, India is set to kick off iPhone 7 sales on October 7.
Apple is continuing to add to its team of machine learning experts in Cupertino. TechCrunch reports that Apple has acquired Tuplejump, which describes itself as a service that “presents all your data in a familiar format” on their now-removed website. An Apple spokesperson gave TC the usual non-denial confirmation regarding the acquisition:
Apple is known to be notoriously bad at social — look no further than Ping, a social feature embedded in iTunes that Tim Cook killed because no one used it. That’s fine for the most part because Apple makes the platform (iOS) where the best social network apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) exist and people continue buying iPhones.
Apple isn’t completely socially awkward either. Music lets you tweet and post playlists, Photos lets you share Photo Streams with contacts and on the web, and iOS share sheets facilitate the majority of my social sharing. It’s Apple’s new Activity Sharing feature that I’ve been enjoying the most since iOS 10 and watchOS 3 were introduced.
Activity Sharing lets you automatically share fitness data captured from the Apple Watch with other Apple Watch wearers. Adding a social aspect to activity tracking is especially motivational for staying active and shows Apple doing social right (even if Activity Sharing has opportunities to improve).
This week Benjamin and Zac unpack 9to5Mac’s Apple Watch Series 2 review, the launch of macOS Sierra, iOS 10.1 beta’s Portrait mode blur effect on iPhone 7 Plus, and much more. 9to5Mac’s Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.
Apple has issued the first macOS 10.12.1 developer beta in addition to the first Xcode 8.1 developer beta. The updates come just one day after Apple officially released the major macOS Sierra update for all users.
iOS 10 lets third-party developers use the standard call look and feel from the Phone app in their own apps with something known as CallKit, and Facebook’s latest update to Messenger is already taking advantage of it. Messenger for iOS has let you make calls over the Internet to your friends for a while, and now incoming calls to Messenger will behave just like standard phone calls. This improved behavior even extends to CarPlay.