"Free range" -> "Free reign"
"analogueue" -> !!
Analyst outfit CCS Insight issued a report about the innovation crisis in smartphones this week – and Apple has done little to address this with an iPhone update quickly labelled as incremental. At its main annual product event, Apple implicitly acknowledged the failure of the smartwatch to take off by repositioning the second …
Is it really a bad thing for new devices to feature "incremental" improvements? We've pretty much reached the point with smartphones where they do what we need and they do it reasonably well.
Except that the iPhone 7 is regressive in that they eliminated the headphone jack, and it's just an obvious money grab. Wifey and I have already decided to skip iPhones until headphone jack reappears.
An incremental change would be to make it THICKER and give a bigger battery.
I've read all this funny crap online about how since they eliminated the the headphone jack they don't need a DAC anymore. Hello? how do you think a speaker works?
I think you are going to be waiting for a very long time.
Now that Apple have done this, all the other major players will be doing the same thing so (IMHO) in less than a year it will almost be impossible to buy any model of phone that has late 2016 specs or better that also includes a headphone jack.
OTOH, if say Samsung stood firm and didn't go down this route then they might get a lot of converts from fruity devices for the very reasons you are talking about.
"Now that Apple have done this, all the other major players will be doing the same thing so (IMHO) "
Hugely doubt that tbh, for much the same reason all the other vendors have stuck with standard interchangeable USB connections while Apple have always conspicuously avoided ever releasing an iPhone that can use a cable bought form some other phone company. The market strategy of the 'droid manufacturers hinges on making it easy for users of other 'droid models to switch to them, while Apple's is all about making leaving Apple difficult. Ditching the 3.5mm jack is classic Apple but would be a bad move for, say, Sony or Samsung.
I've just spent 4 days in mobile free rural Devon where the "real" FM radio was the only thing that worked.
I guess I should have added a sarcasm tag. *sigh*
Right up until you want to listen to the football commentary while you are live at the game.
You lost me at football commentary.
and you generally cant listen to it over the net anyway because all the towers are saturated by 20k people all posting to Facebook of themselves 'at the match'.
I take a $2 AM radio to every match and have people clustered around me asking for the commentary......sometimes the old tech works best.....and I work in tech.
>Now that Apple have done this, all the other major players will be doing the same thing so (IMHO) in less than a year it will almost be impossible to buy any model of phone that has late 2016 specs or better that also includes a headphone jack.
Nah - Samsung and LG will instead release phones with two headphone jacks - citing the (very real) popularity of shared listening, cost, audio quality and the easy availability of BT cans for cable haters.
By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear, and the phones get smaller.
When it comes to things like ear buds it really doesn't matter because the most important thing that matter is how the mechanics move the air to make the sound. Focussing on digital vs analogue is a "watch the ball" trick so that the sleight of hand can be performed.
There are so many other problems associated with removing the 3.5 mm plug: if you want to stay wired, the connection is now "at the wrong end" of the phone: should always be at the top of the phone. Personally, I much prefer using Bluetooth to avoid all the cable chaos. My best were some Sennheiser things on a neck cord: easy to use, good battery life and good sound but the controls stopped working at some point. Went with a Jabra dog tag for a while but controls weren't as good, neither was battery life and it was very susceptible to interference.
Despite the poor experience with Jabra I recently bough a Halo Smart for cycling and it does the job brilliantly: excellent battery life (15 hours talk/music) and microphone out of the wind. Controls could be bigger. As for hifi: well I'm on the fucking road and I need to hear any traffic / horns / sirens, so I can just about live without the feeling of being in the Royal Albert Hall!
But there's something missing from this article, as there was indeed in the presentation: what about new Mac hardware? Lots of us have cash we're desperate to give to Apple but not for last year's models.
Will audio quality get better? By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear, and the phones get smaller.
But hold on, hold on... How is there an abolishment of analogue - if there is an adapter with Lightning on one end and a normal headphone socked on the other? Or does that flimsy piece of wire somehow magically includes a self-contained DAC and an amplifier? I wouldn't think so...
My guess is that the analogue audio stage is still there, inside the phone, they just save on the 3.5 socket (which does take a lot of space inside, indeed) and output the analogue signal through the Lightning.
I don't know the pinout on Lightning but I'm pretty sure that's what they've done...
>Or does that flimsy piece of wire somehow magically includes a self-contained DAC and an amplifier? I wouldn't think so.
No need, analogue out is supported by Lightning - and the iPhone requires both anyway for its (finally stereo) speakers!
They've always hated the jack - requires a 'large' ugly flattened edge for the socket and so even the stumpy Apple jacks leave that awkward looking angled gap when plugged into most iDevices.
'Air Buds' are too much temptation for wags - I predict that launching them from unsuspecting ears with an artistic finger flick will be the new 'happy slap' by Xmas.
An illustrative example?
My other half came home with a replacement for her iphone 5, an iphone SE.
"It didn't cost me anything" she says. Which was rather overlooking that as she had come to end of contract she would stop paying off the current phone and the amount of spare money she had at end of month would go up. (in fairness she will sell on the old phone and recoup some cash)
She may have more storage, given Apple's vice-like control on the heresy of removable storage the previous was a little tight by now. Though now I think on it, she could have just cleared off some photos, and messages. Or those apps she didn't use that were contributing to the red circled notification on the iTunes store icon.
Anyway, a modest upgrade that delivered exactly what she wanted. But could have been solved by the 'innovation' of a SD slot.
I fear that in 2-3 years and like the Headphone jack, for most people this will be a thing of the past.
Samsung seem to have given is a reprieve with the S7 but IMHO, the writing is on the wall for the removable SD card and then the SIM tray will be done away with as well.
Thet leaves markets like the Middle East with a problem. Many phones sold there have dual sims. How will those users manage in the future.
Costs. pure and simple. Mechanical trays cost money and are a PITA when it comes to reliability.
It is a shame but I just get the feeling that both are on borrowed time. This will cause a lot of teeth gnashing for some commentards here but really... aren't you supposed to put everything into the cloud???
I am joking ok but that what the marketing people want us to think and do.
>>>Costs. pure and simple. Mechanical trays cost money and are a PITA when it comes to reliability.
This, this here, one of the most moronic arguments ever.
Samsung saving .50p on a mechanical connector saves nothing to you or to Samsung.
Shall I remind you that you are who pays for the phone?
This is the same logic that drive moronic decisions at companies, my favorite is the moron at Commodore who removed one serial line from the motherboard of the C64 to save a few pennies, destroying the speed of the serial bus in the process.
And so on.
The customer pays for the product, and no one buys a product >100 pounds because it is .50p cheaper!
You make the fatal mistake of assuming these products are made for the benefit of the customer or the planet! :)
A quick google search tells me Apple sold 231.22 million phones in 2015. At 50p the sd card tray would have cost them £115 million in materials alone. Further add development, test, repairs, and so on.
So unless the tray brings in enough *profits* to offset £115 million, what's good for the customer or the planet is irrelevant.
And it is fair to say given the iphone SE "free" replacement tale, it is actually even more profitable not to put in the tray, because it generates an almost guaranteed future sale. I swear I think that is why they price their storage upgrades so high. You're paying for the lost future sale too.
Do enough to make them return to your newer product, and make sure they don't realise you're actually screwing them.
It's not just the material cost here, it's the value Apple have attached to having more storage on the iPhone.
Current cost of an iPhone SE SIM-free on Carphone Warehouse:
16GB model - £359
64GB model - £439
iPhone 6S SIM-free:
16GB model - £529
64GB model - £599
Apple seem to attach a value of £70 to a 48GB memory upgrade - whereas a 64GB SanDisk MicroSD XC1 is £14.38* or a 128GB is £34.99** on Amazon.co.uk. So it's worth a lot more to them than simply losing 50p, they're actually losing £70.50 per phone that might have been upgraded, as 16GB is very restrictive in terms of what can be stored on the phone and is often regarded as just present in the price list so they can say the iPhone cost is "from" a particular price. This is the only thing that's good about the iPhone 7 as far as I can see - they've removed the 16GB option from the lineup.
>The customer pays for the product, and no one buys a product >100 pounds because it is .50p cheaper!
True, but they aren't going to drop the price by 50p are they. Imagine you're a manufacturer making & selling 10M phones per year. Saving 50p per phone means you make £5M more profit. The customer pays for the product, but the manufacturer specifies it.
iPhone 5 to SE is more than a 'modest' upgrade. Aside from the significant speed increase (which may or may not get noticed depending on use case), the SE adds TouchID, Apple Pay, a better screen, an order-of-magnitude better camera, and better battery life.
"A modest upgrade because for her none of those extras were reasons she had for upgrading."
The fact that she doesn't need the extra features doesn't make it a modest upgrade. It's still a significant upgrade; just that she doesn't need it.
when they've rarely innovated? What, really, have they ever invented, as opposed to applying exceptional design and build quality to things that already existed?
I wouldn't even go so far to say that Apple has "exceptional design".
As for quality - hard to convince me that the quality is better than competitors (after all, they're all made in asian sweatshops with slave labour)
"Exceptional design and usability can itself be considered innovative."
This is true. The issue here is that Apple are sacrificing usability (removing a useful connector, battery life) in favour of design. For any product that has to do something and do it well, "design" should always take second place to ergonomics. Design for functionality, totally alongside that. Some people would say that the most functional design is the most aesthetic design. But that's before the hidden persuaders ((c) Vance Packard) get involved.
The headphone link in the article took me to a page advertising a "new" ceramic watch which did not even have a ceramic wristband for 1200+ f*** quid.
It looks more or less like the Ceramic Fossil I bought the SWMBO for 104£ 4 years ago. Just bigger and uglier. It also has a cheap plasticky strap instead of a proper ceramic chainlink wristband. The one Fossil shipped with their ceramic watch so far has survived for 4 years including at least one full speed wipeout without a single scratch. It looks as pristinely white as when the day it arrived.
Sorry, not a chance in hell I am going to part that amount of money for this PoS.
While at it, what is the correct "Ridiculous Headphones" link.
Thanks for the link. From the page And the W1 chip manages battery life so well, you can listen for 5 hours on a single charge
That is a massive fail for cordless headphones. 8 hours is the absolute minimum because if you need them on a long journey, you really need them.
Thanks for correct link.
5 Hours? thats not even one full OMGITBROKEFIXITNAO conference call.
And.. and... is that not a 3.5mm jack opening on the bottom of each of those ..... weirdly shaped phallic objects?
Lord knows what they'll charge for those things.
"Will audio quality get better? By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear, and the phones get smaller."
Is that ironic, because BT or other digital connection adds re-encoding of the original digital content, which has to be unpacked. The "digital" earphones can easily have a lower quality decoder, DAC and audio amp than is possible on the phone motherboard. Re-encoding from one digital format to another ALWAYS reduces the quality unless it's a totally lossless format. You simply can't have the same quality and power level of analogue signal inside a wireless ear bud as 50 cents worth of electronics inside the phone. What part of the fact that Earphones and Loudspeakers need analogue* do people not understand?
YOU STILL HAVE TO HAVE ANALOGUE TO DRIVE THE EARPHONE COILS!
This is daft. The only advantage whatsoever of ditching an analogue jack is to Apple. You'd be lucky to have as as good quality and will have poor choice of earphones / headsets and have to spend money to connect it to a HiFi as an MP3 player.
The Apple justification of this is simply lies. It's a disgrace and a huge backward step. I'd bet if they could prevent 3rd party earphones working, they would. It's immoral.
[*A nasty trick of low power electronics is to use Pulse Width Modulation, variations of Class D, on/off to drive the moving coil of an earphone or speaker. Apart from the risk of radio interference, it's hard to get the distortion and resolution as good as decent DAC followed by filter and linear audio amp.]
The Apple justification of this is simply lies. It's a disgrace and a huge backward step.
It's worse than that: it's a con trick "watch the ball/lady", designed to take your attention off the real issue. See my post above.
For wireless transmission you pretty much need to go digital in order to get error correction and deal with the potential interference in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band. If this is done right then with a good DAC the quality is a good as good old copper, done poorly and it's fucking awful.
>>YOU STILL HAVE TO HAVE ANALOGUE TO DRIVE THE EARPHONE COILS!
>>This is daft. The only advantage whatsoever of ditching an analogue jack is to Apple.
Spot on, this only benefits Apple, now if you want to produce iPhorno headphones you need to cash Apple a license.
And I'm waiting to hear people that the last security update for iOS has killed their unlicensed headphones.
But, who cares, whoever buys Apple stuff deserves the Apple treatment.
What part of the fact that Earphones and Loudspeakers need analogue* do people not understand?
Maybe this is the coming innovation - apple customers will in the coming months be offered the chance to upgrade their ears to digital. No more earpieces required for interacting with apple products at all, however a set analogue ears the size of 1970's earphones will be required to interact with the non-apple world.
There's potential for headphones to improve with power and a digital signal source. Tradeoffs in driver design are more relaxed when local electronics can compensate for certain types of defects. It opens the possibility for a customized active design that outperforms a passive component design.
The shame is that Apple didn't fix any of this in a practical manner. Bluetooth doesn't have enough digital bandwidth to sound good and the Lightning port is proprietary. Their quest for a walled garden has killed this idea.
Exactly. I've lost track of how many times I've read that this will be so superior because the phone doesn't have to convert the digital audio to analogue, completely ignoring the fact that the earbuds still have to convert it, using less processing power, or all your music is going to sound like a fax machine connecting.
Now all we have to do is evolve digital ears and we'll be living in an audio utopia
will be in advances which aid or assist users who eyesight and/or coordination is failing.
Otherwise there will be an almighty crash that will ring around the world as the wrinklies (you know - the ones who have the money) are forced to give up their iShinys and retire from the digital scene.
Don't be surprised if there is a "revival" of desktops in 10 years time. As grandfolk everywhere dust off their old keyboards and big screens to continue surfing and buying.
You read it here first.
> advances which aid or assist users who eyesight and/or coordination is failing.
A nice pair of Apple iEyes inserts...
Direct Cortex Inject (DCItm) for pure digital visiion, and only the occasional, discrete advertisement in the corner of your vision (unless you upgrade to the ad-free subscription package).
"will be in advances which aid or assist users who eyesight and/or coordination is failing."
What do you think 5.5 inch screens are for? I really liked my compact Sony, but a week with an LG G4 made me realise what I'd been missing, like using a phone without glasses.
Now come on, we can't blame Apple for the fact that wearables as a whole are niche as hell and still haven't identified a serious purpose for themselves.
I actually kinda feel bad for them in this one case, and there's a pretty good reason why. Even though the Watch is more or less acknowledged as a costly failure that no-one really wanted to make and which has no compelling reason to exist, it's still the #1 position in the worldwide smartwatch market. The Watch isn't responsible for the fact that that entire market is <10 million units a year and is already in near-terminal decline.
The whole 'they're great for fitness' thing is bullshit; for starters, they aren't accurate enough to give anything more than a vague approximation of health benefit, and for second the market only latched onto the idea after they'd been making the things for years. They're years away from being really useful for medical purposes, and while they're reliant on attaching to a mobile phone they're essentially a useless, pricey add-on who's sole purpose is to save me having to reach into my own pocket to read a text message - not labour saving enough to be worth more than $100.
Honestly, I'd sooner that the watch merged with my phone into a wrist-mounted communication device, and the other internet/email/tablet functions of the modern phablet were just wholesale adopted into an 8-inch tablet design. The Phablet falls between two stools for most things - it's cumbersome as a telephone, yet still not actually large enough to make reading or web browsing comfortable.
Shame, I won't be jackblocked by Apple, no matter how courageous Phil thinks this to be. Not that inserting your plug into an iThing's welcoming recepticle would have ever resulted in an exceptionally pleasant auditory experience - it has always been more of a convenience thing. Plugging into something of higher quality will instantly cure you, though.
Call me antiquated, but I like my KISS headphones and analog audio jack. That is the one component that has reliably 'just worked' all along. When I lose or damage the headphones, they are inexpensive to replace.
As for the rest of the features on the new iPhone.....they seem more evolutionary than revolutionary. Of course there will be a better camera, better pixels, better audio, a faster processor, and more RAM. But that is not compelling enough for me to upgrade.
I'll pass on this one. And if Apple doesn't figure out the 'oops' they made with the headphone plug, then I will likely consider switching vendors when this phone wears out.
(KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid)
I think I'll settle for repeatedly asking them...
1. Why they have a toothbrush(es) in their ear(s).
2. Offer to take them to casualty so the toothbrush(es) can be removed.
If they explain it's an earpiece, say 'naw, it's the head of an electric toothbrush'. And return to 1 or 2.
As Ludwig Von Drake would say. Watches are fickle things. For the most part (since quartz crystal and silicon chips) the timepiece part of the watch is in the less than $50 range. The added parts of the watch go into the "gee wiz" category (see diving watches), or jewelry (see Rolexes). People who BUY watches tend to keep them for a long time (Me, over 15 years), and use them for a simple task, answering the question "what time is it?". You don't need much after that for basic functionality, and you can't innovate much in that space either. The iWatch is a solution in search of a problem, and the solution doesn't really solve anything.
What might be really innovative would be a "self charging" version, where it takes the hand/arm movements and recharges the battery. This could (possibly) add enough to make the manual recharging process unnecessary.
That would be a BIG DEAL. I suspect that the energy available isn't enough to be significant, so it probably won't happen. In case it does, I mentioned it here first, and if nobody patents in a year, it is a free idea.
I still like nice analog (dials) watches, and desktop machines. I need the nice big letters that work nicely with my old age (*SIGH*).
There are plenty of watches where the pendulum of the auto winder drives a little dynamo to charge a supercapacitor or battery, and yes, the power generated isn't enough for a small computer with a display. Auto winders do require one to be reasonably active, so there goes a whole lot of the target market.
I don't agree that Apple had to launch a smart watch quickly to stop Google cornering the market. Blackberry and Microsoft completely owned the smartphone market before Apple came along. I had a load of phones from HTC and HP running Windows Mobile before the Galaxy S came out. Being late to the market didn't do Apple any harm, it gave them a chance to look at what the competition was doing wrong and fix it.
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Mobile Windows Mobile was the most popular software on phones up to 2007.
Since Microsoft already had that market share, it must have been very tempting for Apple to rush a product to market, maybe based on the whole of OS X. But Apple took their time to do something different, to really make touch screen technology work for the user and to develop a device specific form of OS X in iOS.
Remember a previous product Apple had - maybe to test the waters - was the iPod form which almost looked like the iPhone that Apple introduced later.
I don't think it is a case of late to market doing any harm - it was a case that Apple spent the time to get the product right. The same happened with the iPad. That is why Apple is secretive about their product development because they know other companies compete by rushing inferior products to market. So as you say they saw what the competition was doing wrong.
With the watch, it seems Apple are actually defining this market and they will need the time to get it to the right point. Problem is do people really want such a small form factor on their wrist for the price that it costs to put so much technology into such a small form.
It's easy to make a case by looking at binary decisions and saying they took one path, so I'll argue for the opposite one. Then throw in emotive adjectives like 'clunky'. This does not enhance your journalism and rather undermines its credibility.
A moments thought about a circular form factor will dismiss it. Circular form factors for watches is a natural for because the hands go around in a circle. But for just about everything else circular is a very bad fit.
Think back in history - there were circular TVs. The consoles on Control Data machines were circular, but pretty much ever since, the preference has been for rectangular. Even this dialog box I am typing in now is rectangular - why didn't the register make it round?
Many Register arguments against Apple seem to follow this same pattern. No wonder Apple doesn't invite you to things.
I'm not totally against the Register though - a lot of your stories are good and informative. You just need to stop pandering to the anti-Apple brigade of IT people who still resent that Apple toppled IBM (yes it was Apple - Gates was just in the position to clean up).
For those who wear shirts with cuffs, square watches tend to catch on the cuffs while round ones don't. A small thing but becomes very noticeable.
The squareness of just about everything IT is a natural consequence of the way CRTs, printers and LCDs work - Cartesian coordinates. That doesn't make it optimal for a display, especially as the human eye is designed for a more or less circular field of view.
At our school gates, parents don't wear watches. If they need to know the time, they ask Facebook. If they need to know where they are, they ask Facebook. If they need to know what to think, they ask Facebook. If they need to know their heart rate, they ask, oh, wait, why would they want to know that?
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