Category Archives: Tech

Is the iPhone X camera worth the cost of entry?

As part of me trying out the iPhone X for 6 weeks I spent a lot of time testing the camera.

For me, getting the best camera available to me was the number 1 driver. I love taking photos on my iPhone and had previously enjoyed portrait mode in my brief time with the 7 Plus.

I’ve found the camera on the X to be on par with the 7 Plus.

  • Low light on par with my 7 (in my testing)
  • Portrait mode continues to impress me and I miss it on my 7, nowhere near my Canon 70D though
  • I don’t take selfies…

I ultimately chose to use my Canon more and save myself £1400 for now.

If you don’t own a DSLR and want to invest in having the best phone camera you can get (within the Apple ecosystem) then the iPhone X is going to be a good buy.

Why I returned my iPhone X

As you may know I’ve had an iPhone X for around 6 weeks and this week I decided to return it back to Apple within it’s return period. I picked one up to write some some freelance work and as a technology enthusiast also wanted to give one a try. I know I ranted about the price but I didn’t want to dismiss it out of hand, especially when it provided some extra work opportunities.I had the 256GB in space grey, picked up Apple Care + and used no case. It wasn’t cheap, £1380!Here’s why I returned it.

Price of entry is too high

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I was using a phone that was as much as my MacBook or iMac. Yes, there is a lot of technology but at a starting price of £999 I feel it’s about £100 too much.

FaceID

I’m glad to be back on TouchID with my iPhone 7. I can unlock the iPhone as I’m getting it out of my pocket, it doesn’t demand my attention. I also don’t miss swiping up from the bottom to get to the home screen. Call me paranoid but I also wasn’t comfortable being blasted in IR multiple times a day, it’s a small amount but there isn’t any good reporting on the effect of IR blasts into your eyes yet. Generally I feel that it doesn’t do any long term damage but after experiencing some dry eye I thought it couldn’t be helping.I really don’t miss FaceID or Animoji.

That bar at the bottom

Pretty much all the time there is a bar at the bottom of the screen to indicate you can swipe on it. I’m sure it’ll get fixed in iOS 12 but I find it annoying.

RSI

I experienced some shoulder pain using it over this period, maybe due to extra weight. In hand was fine, much better than a Plus for me.

In hand

It feels delicate and more slippery than the jet black 7. After using it for a while I think it’s the sides that make it slippery rather than the back. You need to be a fan of cases, I’m not.

It was only about the camera

Turns out the most enjoyable element of the iPhone X was the dual lens camera. I used zoom and portrait mode a lot and it was something I missed on my iPhone 7 having used a plus for a period of time. Aside from portrait I didn’t feel the shots were noticeably better than my iPhone 7. Low light still sucks and I could get closer if I wanted a zoom. At the end of the day I was paying £1380 for a camera update, more than I paid for my Canon 70D + lens.

Navigating iOS

I never fully took on board the new gestures. I hated closing apps, it was slower. App switching using 3D Touch on the edge of the screen feels more natural to me on my iPhone 7. I felt I was less efficient on my iPhone X. I’m sure over time I’d adjust and will have to if I want to use iOS going forward but I’m just not there yet.

What next?

I’m at a point where I might have bought my last iPhone. More than likely the entire range will adopt FaceID over the next two years and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I like my home button and TouchID. The iPhone 7 is still a great iPhone and an even better price now, especially in the used market.You might call me old fashioned but I hope Apple keeps TouchID on at least one model for a while yet.So whilst a marvel of technology that comes at a price the iPhone X just isn’t for me at this point in time. I’ll miss the camera and larger display but I feel at home on my iPhone 7. I feel efficient and comfortable, it’s where I want to be right now.

Switching to OmniFocus

I’ve been using a mixture of Todoist and Reminders but now I’m into 2018 I’ve decided to make a switch back to OmniFocus.

Todoist was fine but it’s update to include little illustrations didn’t sit well with me. Reminders is ok for basics but not to plan a lot of projects.

So, I made the decision to go all in on OmniFocus.

The most important decision when choosing a to do app is trust. Do you trust that when you get something off your mind it’ll stay safe somewhere until you need to see it?

With OmniFocus and more importantly the Omnigroup I trust them as I do Apple with my data. I can’t say the same for most others.

I’ll keep you updated on my configuration and how I’m getting on.

Biggest letdowns of 2017

I’ve shared my favourite things so here are my biggest letdowns.

  • Star Wars Battlefront II : I don’t think I need to highlight the loot crate situation that highlighted EA’s greed to everyone. Yes, this was a big reason but also the first person mode in game felt broken. Confusing customisation and weird UX just made it feel like a rushed game with no love gone into it. I’m glad the community stood up together against EA and although in game purchases are turned off for now it’s still a poorer game than the first Battlefront (which I’m still playing and having fun with).
  • Formula 1 2017 : I love my F1 games and I had high hopes coming off the 2016 version. Well the 2017 version reuses most of the assets and ultimately feels like the same game. The physics and driving still feels good but the graphics just don’t come near to the competition. People looks strange and the constant screen tearing reminds me of a 10 year old game. I’ll pick up when it’s £10, that’s all it’s worth.
  • Sony 4K HDR TV : This was a pricey TV that suffered from lack of support from Sony to keep Android optimised and up to date. Everything felt slow, confusing and too many steps to do anything. The picture was ok but the OS just meant for a bad experience.
  • iOS 11 : So many little niggles for me from a UX and UI perspective. Bugs everywhere and even on an iPhone X it feels sluggish at times. It’s been a bad year for Apple in software and I’m hoping all of the lessons taken from 2017 will improve things in 2018.
  • VW Golf GTE : I wanted to love my new car but now I’m a few months in I really don’t like the VW hybrid implementation. I’m finding that for local miles it’s great, if I have a charge I’ll be good on electric. Unfortunately my job requires doing a lot of motorway driving, this isn’t good for a hybrid. Even with a full battery (around 20 miles) I’m getting 40MPG. On a low battery it can be as low as 25MPG on a long run (200 miles). I really want to love hybrid but for me based on the VW experience I’ll be going all electric with a Tesla Model 3 or petrol for my next car.
  • Sonos Play 1 : Sounds good but for me the implementation ruins the experience. The app is slow to respond and when using Apple Music it gets bogged down if you have a lot of music. Streaming is pretty solid in terms of play time after hitting play within the app and drop outs however. I’ll be looking at selling and getting a HomePod as soon as I can.

Here are my letdowns, what are some of yours?

My favourite things of 2017

Thought I’d share some of my favourite things from 2017. No particular categories just anything that gave me some joy this year.

  • Thor Ragnarok : Up there with The Last Jedi as my favourite film of the year and along with Guardians of the Galaxy one of my favourite Marvel films so far.
  • Star Wars, The Last Jedi : Very polarising film based on public opinion but on second watching it cemented it as one of my favourite Star Wars films. It plays with some of the rules of the universe, has lots of shocking moments and takes old characters in interesting new ways.
  • Stranger Things Season 2 : One of the most original, compelling and well acted TV series of the last 10 years in my opinion. Season 1 was amazing, season 2 took up it up a notch.
  • Nintendo Switch : My gadget of the year, goes everywhere with me. Bought on day 1 of release and played almost every day since. Just wish the older games were out so that I could relive the NES and SNES days.
  • Zelda Breath of the Wild : What can I say, not been this drawn into a game like this since the original uncharted. It feels like being inside something like middle earth and I think I put almost 100 hours into it. I don’t think I’ve ever been this obsessed with a game in my life.
  • GT Sport : Always been a fan of Gran Turismo since the original PlayStation. This new 4K HDR version feels like I’ve come back home. Loads of cars, loads of single player challenges and a cracking online option.
  • Lego BB-8 : Hands down my favourite bit of Lego I’ve done all year and a must for any Star Wars fan.
  • Sphero R2-D2 : If you can pick this up for under £100 then it’s a must, again if you are a Star Wars fan.
  • iPad Pro 10.5″ : Apple have made some good hardware this year but my pick has to be the new iPad Pro. Paired with the Smart Keyboard cover and Pencil it is easily my favourite “computer ” Apple has ever made. As with my Nintendo Switch it goes everywhere with me.
  • LG B7 OLED : Dropping our Sony with Android and grabbing this webOS enabled LG is one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. The quality of OLED blows me away every time I watch it and HDR adds a 3D quality you have to see rather than me try to describe.
  • Apple AirPods: I know they technically didn’t come out this year but that’s when I’ve been using them. Easy to set up, use across devices and design to easily make them my favourite headphones of all time. I still think they look a little funny but I’ll take it over wires dangling and getting caught on things.

So here’s some of my favourite things this year, what are some of yours?

CAN AN IPAD HELP WITH RSI?

I’ve been typing on keyboards for as long as I can remember (ZX Spectrum was my first computer if you are interested!) and it’s all catching up on me as I get older. I have experienced shoulder, hand and wrist pain over the years of working on a computer for 8 hours a day and wanted to share how the iPad has been helping me to manage this.

If you have been following me for a while you will know that I am a big advocate of using an iPad to get your work done and with the incoming iOS 11 update it’s an even more important time to start to look at if you can alter your work habits.

I’ve found using an iPad Pro as my daily machine for writing and as a supplement to my 9-5 machine to really improve how I use a computer and thus having a positive impact on my RSI issues.

THE 9-5

In my day job I am at a standard Dell laptop but supplementing this with my iPad has made a difference to how I’m sat and my posture throughout the day. I use my iPad for all my notes and sketches in the day (I’m in meetings at least 2 hours a day). Using the iPad encourages me to change my position, allows me to stand up and walk around and change my hand position.

WRITING

90% of what I do on this site is produced on the iPad and Apple Pencil. Using this combination allows me to change my sitting position, use the on screen keyboard, the smart keyboard cover and the pencil for navigation – basically it gives me loads of flexibility.

I also find that I enjoy using the pencil for navigation as a way to take a break from typing and walking around with it allows me to give my shoulders a rest.

SO DOES IT ACTUALLY HELP?

Unscientifically for me – yes.

I find that the iPad forces me to change my position and with the pencil on hand to navigate with it gives my wrists a much needed rest. It’s important to point out that regular rests (every 30 mins or so), even if it’s just standing and sitting again is important anyway and having an iPad on hand to use especially in the day job forces me to break my laptop typing and use something else.

Get up, walk around with the iPad and make the most of this amazing technology we have at our fingertips.

Sphero R2-D2: Initial impressions

I’ve had about 2 hours with the Sphero R2-D2 so wanted to share a few of my thoughts on using it so far. (For context I already own the Sphero BB-8 and am using on iOS).

  • The box is beautifully made and the unboxing experience is a step up from BB-8
  • Couldn’t see any instructions in my box
  • Comes with micro USB to charge
  • Has a charge indicator on the droid, this is great
  • Having sounds coming from Artoo is great, BB-8 doesn’t
  • On board LED lights are great and he looks just like the movies
  • Easier to control than BB-8
  • More predefined actions at the tap of a single button

In short, I love this new Sphero. It’s a must for any Star Wars fan if you can get it under £100.

What I want to see from Apple in 2018

As we’ve already talked about 2017 was a mixed year for Apple. Moving into 2018 it’s a good opportunity to think about what I’d like to see in 2018.

iPhone lineup

Between iPhone 8 and X Apple have had mixed reactions from the public. The 8 isn’t different enough and the X is too expensive. Personally I’d love to see how many iPhone SE and 7 models have been sold since the 8 and X were released, it may surprise you. I feel that they have sold rather well. I know a new line up has been rumoured already but here goes what I’d like to see

  • A new 4.7″ LCD that goes edge to edge, which replaces the current SE
  • The current 8 gets replaced with an edge to edge 5.8″ LCD
  • Plus model dropped
  • The current iPhone X gets a price reduction with 128GB storage option
  • A new 6.5″ OLED iPhone X to satisfy the current Plus owners
  • All models except the SE have a dual lens camera
  • All models have FaceID
  • All models start at 64GB and offer 128GB

Thoughts?

iPad lineup

The current line up is solid, I don’t think we’ll see much on the iPad front aside internal bumps. No edge to edge design needed or FaceID this year I feel.

I’d like to see dual lens on the iPad Pro and FaceID but I don’t see it happening this year.

Mac

As someone that using a Mac maybe 20% of the time it’s a hard one.

I’d say improved keyboards on The MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Deliver on your promise of a new modular Mac Pro.

Wearables

I wear my Apple Watch everyday and love it, don’t see where the hardware can improve at this point.

I’d like to see improvements in software

  • Third party watch faces
  • Improved proactive health detection

Services

iCloud is pretty solid for me so mine is more around consolidation. Roll video into Apple Music or create a new video streaking app. Stop the bloat on iTunes and finally split it up.

Create a new Amazon Prime like service where you pay once and get all of the services in one package.

Software

Improvements to core Apple apps such as Reminders, Calendar and Mail. They are unusable for when you want to get things done and I often use a third party app such as Fantastical.

Consistency, this is something that should be top of Apple’s list when it comes to software improvements. I am a bit sick of Apple’s own apps all having their own personality rather than a consistent approach. For example Music has the new larger header style but Reminders has the older list view that is inconsistent. Please Apple chose one style and stick to it.